Islamabad, April 25, 2021: Pakistan and India have embarked on a “behind the scene,” “away from media glare” quiet engagement process which seems to be following some of the recommendations contained in a book by two former spy chiefs of the South Asian neighbors.
Interestingly, no one knew till some recent developments that the Pakistani and the Indian establishments would be following the peace formula given in the book, “Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI And The Illusion Of Peace.”
One of the authors of the book, Lt Gen (retd) Asad Durrani had to face trial for the crime of Socratizing peace with Amarjeet Singh Dulat, former Chief of Indian intelligence, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).
Former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Chief, Lt General (retd) Asad Durrani had categorically recommended to formalize the ‘on-again off-again’ back channel between Pakistan and India “hidden from the public limelight.”
Details emerging from a marathon seven-hour Iftar cum dinner inter action of atleast thirty Pakistani media persons with Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa; recent claim of a UAE diplomat and talks between Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of India and Pakistan reaffirm that a few more suggestions in the book by the former intelligence chiefs were part of the roadmap for peace between Pakistan and India.
Fahd Hussain, one of the thirty journalists who participated in the almost seven-hour long Iftar cum Dinner with Army Chief General Bajwa, wrote a news story in Dawn quoting high level sources revealing the ongoing “backchannel talks between the intelligence leadership” of the two countries.
“New Delhi had preferred that these quiet negotiations take place at this level instead of through a political platform,” Dawn’s Islamabad resident Editor, Fahd Hussain, wrote following the Iftar cum dinner meeting while quoting “high level sources.”
The high-level intelligence contacts are precisely what was recommended by Lt General (retd) Asad Durrani in the book to break the ice.
“Instead of a confidant of each prime minister, a team headed by someone considered suitable by the major political parties, the foreign office and the military,” should be engaged in the back channel peace process, Lt Gen (retd) Durrani wrote in the chapter titled “Forge Structure or break Ice” in the book The Spy Chronicles.
In Pakistan Chief of the ISI and in India the National Security Advisor (NSA) fulfil the criterion for secret intelligence parleys as specified who enjoy the trust of all stakeholders and can ensure long term institutional ownership of the peace process.
However, no official word is on the record if Pakistan’s ISI Chief, Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, or Indian NSA Ajit Doval, have met secretly in a third country like UAE.
Surprisingly, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, denied any back-channel contacts or mediatory role by UAE in an interview with Turkish media outlet, TRT.
Foreign Minister Qureshi’s denial seems to be part of the policy to keep the talks under wraps for fear of political reprisal and oppositions sloganeering of selling out on Kashmir issue. “Kashmir Baich Diya, Kashmir Ka sauda kar liya” as they say.
“If you put it to the public or media before finalizing anything, you can be certain some of them will shout, sell-out falana, a reversal, now a U-turn,” General (retd) Durrani had recommended while emphasizing the need to make progress in the talks before getting public feedback.
The fact that separate committees are being formed to address issues like Siachin, Sir Creek etc is precisely what AS Dulat referred to as “low hanging fruits” in addition to tackling primary issues like Kashmir and terrorism through dialogue.
In a meeting with this scribe on 18th March, 2021, Lt General Asad Durrani signed the book with the words,” Thank You Arshad Sharif. You must be one of the few who read this book in proper perspective.”
It seems the tormentors of Lt General (retd) Asad Durrani also read the book during his trial and decided to act on the logical ideas which kick started the peace process between establishments of India and Pakistan in December 2020.
Lt General (retd) Asad Durrani was formally charged for breach of Official Secret Act for the crime of writing the book whose policy recommendations are now part of the government policy in both India and Pakistan.
The authors of the book, Lt General (retd) Asad Durrani and AS Dulat, might be smiling as the main theme of the book that India and Pakistan should be talking peace has once again become the policy – atleast till a new distraction comes.