There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Ved Pratap Vaidik has made a fool of himself by walking into an extra-clever trap laid for him by Pakistan’s ISI. In all probability, the trap was laid by extending to him an invitation through two famously notorious Congress leaders, Mani Shankar Aiyar and Salman Khurshid, to join in one of the Pakistan-India bilateral conferences in Islamabad, organized by the Regional Peace Institute at Islamabad. During his questioning of Dr. Vaidik on Times Now, Arnab Goswami virtually drove the self-styled journalist to the wall and transformed him into a clueless argumentative Indian.
Frankly, the murky narrative of the spectacularly dramatic operation staged by the sleuths and moles of the ISI does not end with the anti-national rants of Dr. Vaidik and his merry pow-vow with India’s enemy number one, the notorious terrorist, Hafiz Saeed.
There is much more to it than meets the eye.
Manishankar Aiyar and his close friends in the ISI
It is a pity that the famed anchor, Arnab Goswami, did not try to dig deep into the mysterious functioning of the Pakistan-nurtured Regional Peace Institute based in Pakistan. For reading the tea leaves of the ISI’s nefarious plot, one has to understand that the shadowy outfit called the Regional Peace Institute, which is partly funded by the Munich-based Hanns Seidel Foundation of Bavaria and partly by donations from Gulf countries reportedly working in cahoots with some pro-Pakistani entities.
The 14-men delegation to the Conference was received at Wagah border by Kasuri himself. The advocacy group has Sonia Gandhi’s spin-master Mani Shankar Aiyar on its board of Governors. He sits on the high table along with Salman Khurshid, Mehmood Kasuri and two former chiefs of the ISI (i.e. former Directors General of Pakistan army), Assad Durrani and Ehsan–ul-Haq, both of whom had served the ISI with distinction.
Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri has been a close confidante of General Mushraff and remained Pakistan’s Foreign Minister from 2002 to 2007. He also happens to be a close friend of Mani Sankar Aiyar for many years and both of them were together at Cambridge during the formative years of their education.
The former ISI chief, General Durrani has held many key posts, including the instructorship at the officers’ academy and later at the Command and Staff College, Quetta, Director General of Military Intelligence, Director General of the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence, Inspector General Training and Evaluation at the General Headquarters and Commandant at the National Defence College, now a University. Because of his tactical mastery in strategy in managing difficult situations, he was nicknamed ‘Fire-Fox’ by his peers in the ISI and among higher echelons of the Pakistani army.
General Durrani has a strong German connection. First, he is a graduate from the military General Staff Academy of Germany. Second, Durrani has also been Pakistan’s military attaché in Germany from 1980 to 1984. And the third, the opportunity for striking deep roots in Germany came his way during 1994-1997 when after retiring from the Army in 1993 he was appointed as Pakistan’s ambassador to Germany. His three assignments in Germany resulted in his dalliance with the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Bavaria. Perhaps thereby hangs the tale of General Durrani’s proximity to the Hanns Seidel Foundation, which was instrumental in financing the ISI-dominated shadowy outfit called the Regional Peace Institute. This NGO was founded by him in the company of the former Pakistani Foreign Minister, Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri, a lackey of General Mushraff and his old Indian friend, Mani Shankar Aiyar of the Indian National Congress.
The second important dramatis personae planted in Kasuri’s NGO was General Ehsan-ul-Haq, another favourite of Musharraf. During the army coup in 1999, Maj Gen Ehsan was Director General of Military Intelligence (DGMI). HE continued as Director General, Military Intelligence, a post he continued till April 2001, when he was promoted as Lieutenant General and posted as the commander of Peshawar Corps .
After the military take over of Pakistan in 1999 in which General Pervez Musharraf seized power, General Ehsan was given some of the most important posts in the Pakistan Army which included commanding the Army corps in the restive tribal region and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. He also directed the ISI and was functioning as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and as Commander-in-chief of Pakistan Armed Forces. Like Musharraf , General Ehsan-ul-haq is a known Hindu-hater and India-baiter.
On May 14 2001, Major General Ehsan was promoted by Musharraf to a three-star general and by October 2001 was given the command of Inter-Services Intelligence. This command changeover was part of a major reshuffle that took place after the events of 9/11, after Pakistan joined hands with the United States in the War on Terror.
On completion of his term as ISI chief in October 2004, General Ehsan was promoted to the rank of a four-star general and made chairman of Pakistan’s JCSC by Mushraff. In the process, General Ehsan superseded seven senior generals among whom were Generals Hamid Javaid, Javed Hassan, Munir Hafiez, Ahsan Saleem Hyat, Tariq Waseem, , Muhammad Akram, Syed Parwez Shahid, among others. After his retirement from military service on October 8, 2007, he came to be associated with the notorious Track-II diplomacy launched by the ISI.
Arnab Goswami’s ill-informed talk show
The key point which Arnab Goswami missed while interviewing Dr. Vaidik was the striking similarity between the modus operandi adopted the pro-Kashmiri militants advocacy group launched by General Durrani and Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri and the working of the Kashmiri American Council headed by the Pakistan’s US-based spy Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai who was arrested in July 2011 and subequently convicted in America.
According to the FBI, Dr Fai’s espionage outfit KAC was receiving huge financial aid to the tune of $300000–500000 per annum from the ISI. The gratis largesse received from Pakistan was used by Dr. Fai for inviting the super-secularist elite of India like Justice Sachar, Kuldip Nayyar, Dilip Padgaonkar and others of their tribe for promoting the cause of Kashmiri secessionists.
The modus operandi of Dr. Fai was fully comparable to the methods adoptd by Kasuri and his friend Mani Shankar Aiyar by offering free junkets to the pro-Pakistan chatterati of India. It is anybody’s guess how much secret funding of the Regional Peace Institute comes from the coffers of the ISI and how much of it is rolled from Gulf countries through hawala channels. But if the financial largesse bestowed by the ISI on Dr. Fai’s KAC was about 3 ro 5 lakh dollars per year, surely an equally amount must be spent on Khurshid Mehmood’s advocacy group. It is no secret that the list of the high profile Indians invited by Dr. Fai to his annual seminars was invariably cleared by his ISI handler whose name, according to the Mumbai-based newspaper DNA, was Brigadier Bajwa.
It is true that by prompting Vaidik through his Pakistani journalist friend to seek a friendly chat with Hafiz Saeed, the ISI and the Regional Peace Institute of Rawalpindi have made a serious attempt to undermine the prestige of India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and bring down the credibility of the Vivekananda International Foundation.
In this spy story, the peeling of onions could reveal a big conspiracy. In addition to arresting and prosecuting Vaidik for treason, there is a need for debriefing Mani Shankar Aiyar and Salman Kurshid to unravel the depth of their association with an Islamabad-based ISI-floated advocacy group by organizing bogus bilateral conferences for promoting peace between Pakistan and India. Without registering a case against Dr. Vaidik and the Regional Peace Institute, the truth will never come out. Suffice it to say that during a decade of UPA rule, jihadism and Islamism have made deep inroads into India’s political universe.
Let us not forget the undue haste with which the entry of Mullah Zaeef into India was facilitated by the Intelligence Bureau so he could attend the now-disgraced Tarun Tejpal’s Think-India 2013 festival last year in Goa. We must also remember that according to Adrian Levy and Cathy-Scott Clarke, an operative of the ISI had confided in them that have successfully planted a super-spy codenamed “Honeybee” and a retinue of rats (chuhes) across India.
Ram Ohri is a former IPS officer and writes regularly on security issues, demographics, and occasionally, on policy.