Former Indian and Pakistani intelligence officials have authored joint papers calling for greater contact between the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate and the Research and Analysis Wing to prevent regional crisis and push forward new thinking on the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir
The papers emerged from a meeting of the former Indian and Pakistani intelligence officials in October, as part of the Ottawa Dialogue, a Track II dialogue process organised by Ottawa University.
In their paper, CD Sahay and Wajahat Latif say what covert services “can achieve is not at times even conceivable in political or diplomatic channels.” RAW and the ISI, they say, can “help to guard against panic reactions: for example, unintended mobilisation of forces or possible nuclear alerts.” The two services, they write, “might have a common interest to prevent another incident of the kind which occurred in Mumbai in November, 2008.”
Mr. Sahay, a Karnataka-cadre India Police Service officer was RAW chief from 2003 to 2005, and Mr. Latif of the Pakistan Police Service officer headed the Federal Investigation Agency from 1990 to 1993.
The former ISI chief, Asad Durrani, and the former RAW chief, AS Dulat, in a companion paper, have outlined the origins and course of the dialogue process that began in 1997. “Better understanding between the two neighbours would go a long way in resolving not only Kashmir but almost all issues between them”, they write.
Spy chiefs of both nations have secretly met on several occasions. The former RAW chief, A.K. Verma, and his ISI counterpart, Hamid Gul, met at least twice, highly placed sources told The Hindu, to discuss the prospects of demilitarising the Siachen glacier and addressing Khalistan violence. They met for the first time in the Swiss resort town of Interlaken, the sources said, after contact was brokered through Jordan’s crown prince, Talal bin Hassan, whose Kolkata-born wife, Princess Sarvath el-Hassan, comes from an eminent family with roots in both India and Pakistan.
Mr. Sahay and Lieutenant-General Ehsan-ul-Haq met in the wake of the 2001-2002 near-war between India and Pakistan, as part of a series of high-level contacts that yielded a ceasefire on the Line of Control.
Mr. Sahay's successor, P.K. Hormis Tharakan, also met with his ISI counterpart, Lieutenant-General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, who went on to be Pakistan’s Army chief.
The outcomes of these meetings remain shrouded in secrecy, and three RAW officers connected with them offered varying accounts of their utility in conversations with The Hindu.
The Sahay-Latif paper says that the failure to institutionalise the RAW-ISI channel “defies logic particularly, if the earlier experiences were not too discouraging. It could only be due to lack of political vision and a degree of lack of self- confidence at every level.”
Intelligence Dialogue participants include retired officials A.K. Doval, A.S. Dulat, Shaukat Javed, R.N. Ravi, Sallahuddin Satti and Sikander Afzal.
Peter Jones, Canadian scholar who organises the Ottawa process, said its “goal is that the Dialogue must belong to the regional participants. The topics discussed and the ideas generated must come entirely from the region.”
This article has been edited to correct a factual error.
>>In the report, “Former India, Pakistan spy chiefs call for direct channel for RAW, ISI” (Dec. 14, 2013), the name of the former RAW chief was wrongly given as Asad Durrani. Actually, it is A.S. Dulat.