Home Global Village Ajit Kumar Doval – An Indian jackal or a wily old fox?

Ajit Kumar Doval – An Indian jackal or a wily old fox?

Jamal Hussain |

Ajit Kumar Doval, the current Indian National Security Adviser (NSA) to the Modi led BJP government of India has impressive credentials for the job. A former officer in the Indian Police, he was actively involved in anti-insurgency operations in Mizoram and the Indian Punjab. Considered an accomplished negotiator and a master spy, he had served as the Director of the Intelligence Bureau for six years and was posted in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad as an undercover spy.

His accomplishments include his role in the merger of Sikkim with India, collection of critical information inside the Golden Temple that resulted in the botched up Operation Black Thunder (1988), and a part of the three member Indian team that negotiated and eventually caved in to the hijackers demands in the IC-814 hijacking incident at Kandahar in 1999.

Doval needs to rethink his Pakistan policy and base it on existing ground realities. He should advise his government to deal with Pakistan honestly in a frank and sincere manner.

On the plus side, after taking over as the NSA in 2014, Doval is credited with the rescue of 46 Indian nurses trapped in a hospital in Tikrit, Iraq. His role, along with the Indian ambassador to China Vijay Keshav Gokhale, in the resolution of the Doklam standoff with China has also been recognised and appreciated. Some of his key trademark policies and actions, however, are considered very controversial in Pakistan and even by a section of the Indian public and media.

The doctrinal shift in the Indian security guidelines in relation to Pakistan from defensive to defensive-offensive (aka offensive-defence) and “double squeeze” strategy are also his brainchild. The double squeeze policy envisions externally hard hitting but limited military actions against Pakistan when necessary and internally providing all out support to terrorists in Pakistan and working with Islamist/sectarian elements like Daesh, the TTP and Lashkar e Jhangvi to destabilize the country.

Read more: Modi remains hugely popular in India: Pew Survey shocks his critics

The master spy has enunciated three basic principles for the offensive-defence strategy: one, irrelevance of morality; two, extremism freed from calculation or calibration; and three, reliance on military might. In addition the triple strategic pillars of the doctrine are: first, he advises India not to overreact in Kashmir, it will pass off as they (the Kashmiri freedom fighters) cannot sustain beyond a point. Second, referring to Pakistan he warns it to “either give up terrorism against India as a state policy or India would let it bleed with the Taliban”; and finally the third, the ultimatum “you do one more Mumbai, you lose Balochistan”.

The offensive-defence and double squeeze doctrines are an open admission of supporting the very terror elements India accuses Pakistan of harbouring and of openly admitting India’s role in attempting to destabilize Pakistan by covertly interfering in its internal affairs, in complete violation of all norms of established state to state relationship, as envisioned in the UN charter.

A former officer in the Indian Police, he was actively involved in anti-insurgency operations in Mizoram and the Indian Punjab.

Two of the three Doval principles, irrelevance of morality and reliance on military might would work very well if India was dealing with Nepal or Bhutan but Pakistan is in a different class altogether. Besides the full-spectrum nuclear deterrence, it has a formidable battle-tested military that is the envy of other regional states in the neighbourhood. Despite the Doval bluster and Modi’s verbal threats the Indian administration knows any major military action against Pakistan is a nonstarter; hence the reliance on espionage, subterfuge, sabotage and use of proxies to destabilize it. 

The first of the three strategic pillars of the Doval doctrine is not to overreact in Kashmir. Either Doval’s sound advice is being ignored by the Indian military or in his concept use of pellet guns to maim the protesters, martyring over 200 and seriously injuring 22,000 Kashmiris in the Valley, use of chemical weapons (as reported by independent sources) and even snipping off locks of Kashmiri girls and ladies do not reflect the overreaction. Considering the hold Doval has over Modi and the India Army chief Bipin Rawat, who reportedly owes his out of turn promotion to the top military slot to Doval, the second alternative appears more likely. This also is a manifestation of his first principle, irrelevance of morality in state affairs.

Read more: BJP wins India’s biggest state Uttar Pradesh, strengthens Modi’s grip on…

Staying on the subject of Kashmir, the Doval strategy of using brute force to suppress the Kashmiri uprising has been going on for the past three years, yet the revolt against the Indian rule is not subsiding. Mehandra Singh Dhoni paid a visit to the Kashmir Valley clad in full Army gear in an effort to boost the morale of the Indian soldiers there. Dhoni was the skipper of the Indian national team and under his captaincy India won the world championships in all the three versions of the game.

Considered an icon, along with Sachin Tendulkar, another Indian cricket legend, many in India give him the status of a deity. The entire Army brass present in the ceremony along with Dhoni were left red faced when a large section of the crowd on seeing Dhoni started chanting “boom boom Afridi”, referring to another cricket great of Pakistan Shahid Khan Afridi, known the world over for his explosive batting style. 

The Doval bluster and Modi’s verbal threats the Indian administration knows any major military action against Pakistan is a nonstarter; hence the reliance on espionage, subterfuge, sabotage and use of proxies to destabilize it. 

Doval’s second principle threatening Pakistan to “either give up terrorism against India as a state policy or India would let it bleed with the Taliban” is full of contradictions. The Taliban along with its conglomerate the TTP and ISIS (Daesh) are currently the number one enemies of the American forces under ISAF in Afghanistan and for Doval to suggest India would assist them to punish Pakistan to what he believes is their support to terror syndicates is beyond comprehension, given the hand in glove relationship India and USA enjoy in Afghanistan. The English idiom “cutting off the nose to spite the face” comes to mind.

Have the American think tanks and generals registered Doval’s threats or do they consider it a simple bluster? The “smoking gun” revelations by the captured Indian RAW agent Kulbhushan Yadav from Balochistan and the number of well-documented evidence from other sources revealing the Indian support of terror groups targeting Pakistan leave little doubt Doval is acting on his stance. For the Americans to ignore it one has to assume their need for the Indian Navy to jointly counter the growing Chinese naval power in the Indian Ocean supersedes their Afghanistan operations—appears to be Déjà vu of the American policy in Afghanistan in the 1980s when evicting the Soviet forces from Afghanistan took precedence over monitoring Pakistan’s path towards manufacturing nuclear weapons. 

Read more: Choose Your Enemy, Hindu Or Muslim Migrants: Assam BJP Minister Himanta…

The third and final tier of the Doval strategy that gives an ultimatum to Pakistan “you do one more Mumbai, you lose Balochistan” is the most dangerous one for the entire region. That the Mumbai perpetrators had originated from Pakistan is established without doubt but there is no evidence of the involvement of the state. India continues to cast aspersions on Pakistan without providing any tangible proof. On the other hand, the Indian official version of the event is full of contradictions and it exposes serious weaknesses in the Indian security apparatus and leaves little doubt about the support the raiders had received from locals within India.

Dhoni was the skipper of the Indian national team and under his captaincy India won the world championships in all the three versions of the game.

The death of Hemant Karake, the joint commissioner of Mumbai police during the Mumbai raid is also steeped in controversy. In the Indian official account he was killed fighting the terrorists and was posthumously awarded the Ashoka Chakra, the highest peacetime military decoration for valour. Other sources paint a different picture. The 2006 Malegaon bombings in Malegaon, a town in the Indian state of Maharashtra had resulted in about 37 deaths, mostly Muslims. The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) initially blamed the bombing on the Students Islamic Movement of India but the court found the initial ATS charge fabricated.

Subsequent investigation headed by Hemant Karake led to the arrest of eleven suspects, all Hindus, including a retired Major and a serving Indian Army officer Lt. Col, Prasad Shrikant. Opposition parties then, including the BJP and Shiv Sena had declared him “a traitor to the nation” for his investigation in this direction. The incongruities that came out during the enquiry into the death of Karakegave give rise to speculations that he was deliberately killed by Hindu extremists during the operation to avenge for his (Karake’s) role in the Malegaon blasts.

Since Mumbai, the Pathankot and Uri attacks had brought Pakistan and India to the brink of war. India blamed infiltrators from Pakistan for the raids but the Indian official versions were again convoluted and contradictory to an extent where even sections of the Indian print and electronic media doubted the story. For once even the jingoistic Indian media, which rarely deviates from the official government line had to concede the Indian story of the Pathankot and Uri raids did not quite add up.  The likelihood of the raiders emanating from Indian Held Kashmir rather than from across the border has gained ground.

The third and final tier of the Doval strategy that gives an ultimatum to Pakistan “you do one more Mumbai, you lose Balochistan” is the most dangerous one for the entire region.

In an effort to teach Pakistan a lesson for the Uri attack, in line with the Doval strategy, the so-called strategic strike in Azad Kashmir was conducted by the Indian Army where Doval was a key planner. Pakistan categorically denied any major Indian incursion across the LOC and reportedly beat back a feeble Indian attempt to breach the LOC inflicting heavy casualties on the raiders. The Indian Army claimed major successes in the surgical strikes but again failed to provide any substantive proofs to collaborate their story.

Whether it was the Mumbai attack, the Pathankot raid, the Uri assault or the strange fictitious story of the blow up of a Pakistani fishing vessel suspected of ferrying subversive elements (Dec 31, 2014), anomalies in the official Indian reports (many that were pointed out by the Indian media) in each incident has cast serious aspersions on the Indian motive. Pakistan is convinced India is using and perhaps even stage-managing such incidents to malign it at the international forum. While the chances of a military misadventure (the Indian surgical strike notwithstanding) is slim, India hopes to portray Pakistan as a hub of terrorism to persuade USA to declare it a terrorist state and initiate military actions in the manner Iraq and Syria have been subjected to.

Read more: Muslims joining BJP: A marriage of convenience?

One must not doubt Ajit Doval’s loyalty and sincerity to his homeland nor can his intelligence and skill as a negotiator be underestimated. Highly skilled and fiercely loyal operators have come to grief when they based their strategies on faulty assumptions. Doval’s belief that India’s current standing in the comity of nation states gives it the liberty to flaunt norms and morality the way USA presently and other superpowers in history have done is patently wrong—given the poverty level and lack of basic social amenities to the majority of its citizens, India does not even come close to being a world power.

India is no USA and Pakistan is not Nepal, Bhutan or Afghanistan. Even the mighty USA has realised the limits of hard power when dealing with states in possession of a nuclear arsenal. Doval needs to rethink his Pakistan policy and base it on existing ground realities. He should advise his government to deal with Pakistan honestly in a frank and sincere manner. The future security, progress, and wellbeing of India and its neighbours could be jeopardized if India fails to initiate corrective measures to alter the dangerous path Doval is leading his country into.

Air Commodore (retd) Jamal Hussain has served in Pakistan Air Force from 1966 to 1997. He was awarded Sitara-e-Basalat for his services in the year 1982. He regularly contributes articles on defense-related issues in the Defence Journal from Pakistan, Probe Magazine (Dhaka – Bangladesh) and Dawn, The News, and The Nation English Dailies from Pakistan. He is the author of two books on ‘Air Power in South Asia’ and ‘Dynamics of Nuclear Weapons in South Asia’. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy

  • 249
    Shares

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here