ISLAMABAD/QUETTA: Islamabad may not give New Delhi consular access to an Indian spy arrested last week in Balochistan where he was training separatists for terrorist attacks in Pakistan’s coastal areas, The Express Tribune has learnt from government sources.
Kulbhushan Yadav, an Indian Navy commander and agent of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), was arrested in a raid near the Pak-Afghan border town of Chaman on Thursday. He was earlier posted at Chabahar port in southeastern Iran where he lived with his wife and two children.
Confirming Yadav as a retired Indian Navy officer, New Delhi has sought consular access to him. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif consulted the Foreign Office and the interior and defence ministries on India’s request, according to sources. However, the two ministries recommended against granting India consular access to Yadav citing ‘inappropriate timing’.
They said granting India access to Yadav would open Pandora’s Box and weaken Pakistan’s case against New Delhi. Islamabad will instead approach major world powers, especially the United States, to substantiate its claim that India was stoking terrorism in Pakistan.
The two ministries said India could be granted ‘restricted’ consular access to Yadav only if some world powers intervened and gave certain guarantees, sources said. The prime minister deferred the decision on the Indian request until his return from his upcoming US trip.
Premier Nawaz will leave this week for a tour of the US, where he would attend the Nuclear Security Summit and meet India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines. In the meantime, the prime minister directed the two ministries to register a case against Yadav and collect evidence against him.
Sources in the interior ministry told The Express Tribune that Pakistan has also decided to serve a ‘legal reference’ on Iran in the next couple of days. In the reference, Pakistan will demand information on RAW’s activities at Chabahar port.
Sources said Pakistan took the decision after Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan raised the issue with his Iranian counterpart Abdolreza Rahmani in a meeting on Saturday. Army chief General Raheel Sharif has also requested Iran’s President Hasan Rowhani to stop India from using Iranian soil for terrorist activities in Pakistan.
Yadav, who was flown to Islamabad hours after his arrest, told investigators that his deputy whom he identified as Rakish, alias Rizwan, still lived in Chabahar. Rakish is said to be the second-in-command of RAW in the Iranian port city. Investigators said Yadav hails from Mumbai and entered Balochistan illegally from Chabahar using the fake identity of Hussain Mubarak Patel.
Yadav revealed that Baloch separatists were trained in Mumbai to carry out terrorist attacks in Pakistan’s coastal areas. “They have been provided modern speedboats for this purpose,” a security official quoted him as telling investigators.
He also confessed to training separatists in Balochistan. “My mission was to train Baloch separatists for attacks in the coastal areas of the province,” he told investigators. “The targets included Gwadar deep seaport, Karachi’s coast, and ships and installations of Pakistan Navy.”
Yadav also said that he had arranged modern speedboats for Baloch separatists from Chabahar port. Members of Baloch separatist groups were taken from Gwadar, Pasni, Ormara and Jiwani by boat to Mumbai where they were trained for three months in driving speedboats, another security official quoted Yadav as saying.
After the completion of their training, Baloch separatists were left in the coastal areas of Balochistan to carry out attacks, Yadav said. “Baloch separatists were tasked with sabotaging the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor,” he added. “Their targets included engineers, technical staff and security forces.”
Pakistan has repeatedly claimed that India was stoking violence, especially in Balochistan to sabotage the CPEC, a gigantic project of road and railway networks linking China’s Xinjiang province with Gwadar port. Last year, Pakistan’s permanent representative at the United Nations Maleeha Lodhi had handed over dossiers containing evidence of India’s involvement in Balochistan and other parts of the country.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 28th, 2016.