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'Pakistan is laughing at our weaknesses'

July 17, 2013 14:04 IST

'Pakistan is laughing at our weaknesses'

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Vicky Nanjappa

The fight between the two premier agencies of our country -- the Intelligence Bureau and the Central Bureau of Investigation -- over the Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case appears to be far from over.

It’s not surprising that this tussle, alongwith the latest revelation by an officer that the Indian government was involved both in the 26/11 and Parliament attacks, has been lapped up very willingly by the Pakistan media.

Will this hurt our security especially since there appears to be a lot happening which favours Pakistan?

Amar Bhushan, former special secretary with the Research and Analysis Wing, says that the country’s leadership is to be blamed. In this interview with Rediff.com’s Vicky Nanjappa, Bhushan says this hurts our fight against terror very badly since Pakistan will do nothing but laugh at us and throw papers back when we seek a terrorist from their soil.

What are your thoughts on this IB vs CBI war?

It is very disheartening and I blame the leadership of this country entirely for this. Had there been a prime minister like Indira Gandhi, she would have called both the chiefs, pulled them up and put an end to the fight.

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Image: Pakistan will do nothing but laugh at us and throw papers back when we seek a terrorist from their soil, says Amar Bhushan
Photographs: Zohra Bensemra/Reuters

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'The CBI has handled the Ishrat case all wrong'

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The involvement of an IB officer is what is causing all these problems. Do you agree?

The problem is the Ishrat Jahan case. Whether the IB was involved in it or not is one thing. I am not suggesting that the guilty should get away. But this is not the way to do it and the CBI has handled it all wrong.

In the case of an officer from the secret services, the CBI has to approach the director of intelligence and the Union ministry of home affairs first. If the director then feels that the ends of justice are not met after exhausting these two fora, then the evidence needs to be gathered and the court should be approached. First exhaust all avenues against the officer secretly and only then go to court and seek that he be summoned. However, what needs to be ensured is that the court proceedings are held in camera.

The CBI and everyone are questioning the source who informed the IB that Ishrat was a terrorist. What do you think of this?

There is a basic difference between the working of the IB and the CBI. The CBI looks for evidence which means something can be seen and produced in the court of law. The IB, on the other hand, has information which cannot be seen or produced in a court of law. You must remember that the IB cannot reveal its source.

Even if the government insists on it, the director of intelligence cannot give it out. Ethics demand that if a DIB is under pressure to reveal his source, then he has to tell the government to remove him from the leadership post.

The IB or the RAW cannot betray their sources at any cost. The sources give us information without even knowing our real names. I cannot betray their trust. The government has to tell the CBI in real terms that the RAW and the IB will not give out their sources.

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Image: A combination of photos of the Ishrat Jahan encounter (top left) Ishrat Jahan


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'With what face can we go up to Pak and ask for Hafiz Saeed?'

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What happens if the same is insisted by a court of law?

If the court insists on the source, then the IB should go up to the Supreme Court only and produce the same in-camera. It should tell the Supreme Court that this information cannot be shared or be out in the open in the interest of the source.

The CBI or the government cannot simply ask for sources as they too know that it is highly dangerous to reveal such information in the porous system that we all work in. If the IB gives out its source, then be rest assured it will be selectively leaked to the media.

Both the IB and the RAW function largely due to sources. Will such a fight deter sources?

Yes it will. They must be all scared today that their names could come out. Today they will think a 100 times before giving out information. Do you know what happens to the source if his name comes out in the open? He will be killed in seconds.

The Pakistan media is having a gala time with these developments. How does this impact our war on terror?

First and foremost let me tell you, in the Pakistan set up there would never be a problem like this. The Inter-Services Intelligence rules and there is no questioning them. These developments in India are indeed being lapped up by Pakistan, and why won’t they? What Pakistan wants is to hit us and not get blamed.

These developments especially the one blaming our government for the 26/11 and Parliament attacks will only encourage them to hit us more. Trust me they are laughing at us. This is a sign of a very weak state.

In such an event when our officers are blaming our government, with what face can we go up to them ask for (Lashkar-e-Tayiba chief and 26/11 attacks mastermind) Hafiz Saeed? Earlier they would seek more evidence and avoid the topic, today they will blatantly throw the papers back at us with a smirk.

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Image: Hafiz Saeed
Photographs: Mian Khursheed/Reuters

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'No interrogator will confine the ambit of interrogation'

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The National Investigation Agency says that they were only honouring a commitment with the American Federal Bureau of Investigation and hence spoke only with (arrested Pakistani American LeT operative) David Headley about the 26/11 case and not Ishrat Jahan.

This is just a case of deliberate and selective leaks. The NIA knew about the Ishrat Jahan issue and they also knew that Headley had spoken with the FBI about her. No interrogator worth his salt will leave out such an important angle come what may.

What is the NIA trying to say? No interrogator will avoid enlarging the ambit of the interrogation and confine himself to just A and B. If he is doing that as per someone else’s mandate then he is unfit to be an interrogator. Apart from being unfit, he also does not have the art of interrogation. Unfortunately here truth has become the casualty.

Your take sir on the Ishrat Jahan encounter?

Let me begin by saying that I detest fake encounters. But then a distinction has to be made. A government servant, a journalist or a politician who has gone wrong cannot be killed off in an encounter.

It is mandatory that an opportunity to explain himself or herself is given. However, what is to be done in the case of hardcore terrorists? When you are gunning for a terrorist and going in for an assault, it is quite likely that innocents also get killed.

This is the price that we have to pay when fighting terror. It is sometimes very difficult to isolate innocents and we all know how terrorists have used such persons as a cover.

Now the next point is whether the IB official was part of the conspiracy. What happens is that the IB inputs are like straws in the wind. We pick them up, analyse the pattern and send out the information. There is nothing like conspiring to create evidence in the IB. It is just analysing various inputs floating around in a disjointed manner which have to be analysed and put out.

I know how an IB officer puts out his report when he sends it to the government. His sentences begin with, “It is reliably learnt, it is learnt, it is learnt from an untested source.” He has to share the input with the government and it is for them to decide after verifying the facts whether to go in for an operation or not.

You must have read the CBI charge-sheet mentioning the manner in which Ishrat and her three accomplices were killed.

Firstly I cannot believe that they were killed in such a manner. There are 100 different ways of carrying out an encounter and if the CBI is to be believed then this possibly is the crudest way of doing it. If at all the officers have carried out the encounter in such a manner, then they are unfit to be cops.


Image: A combination of video grabs showing David Coleman Headley


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