ISLAMABAD: A top civilian intelligence agency has revealed before a parliamentary panel that Indian and Afghan spy agencies are preparing certain militant groups to damage the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.
“The East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) are some of the potential threats to CPEC, as the former is directed towards China which is a prime stakeholder in the project,” Intelligence Bureau (IB) Deputy Director General Ali Ahmed Sabir told the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat on Tuesday.
This is the first time that a state agency has publicly talked about the nexus of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) to sabotage CPEC.
Senator Talha Mehmood was chairing the Senate panel meeting, which was briefed by IB officials on their role on provision of security to CPEC projects in Gwadar and Gilgit-Baltistan.
IB’s Director General Aftab Sultan said they had shortage of manpower and could not focus on every project of CPEC. However, he said, all-out efforts were being made for CPEC’s security and the agency had been keeping a sharp eye out for subversive or suspicious activities.
To a question, Sabir said the ETIM was not directly involved in Pakistan but it was a potential threat to the project due to the Chinese connection. The IB chief said prior to Operation Zarb-e-Azb along the western border, most of the militants of the ETIM used to operate from inside those areas.
“However, currently they have shifted to Afghanistan but we still have eye on them,” IB chief added.
IB’s deputy director general said RAW and NDS were preparing the said militants to disturb the CPEC project. “We are gathering information of all such [nefarious] designs,” he said.
Senator Mehmood asked the officials as to why RAW was not being exposed despite that it destroyed the lives, economy and law and order of the country.
“You need to expose RAW, whose spies are being arrested and shame them and tell the world what they are doing in Pakistan,” Mehmood said in reference to Kulbhushan Yadav, a serving Naval officer and Indian spy who was arrested from Balochistan in March this year.
Sabir said RAW was pulling strings of militants from Afghanistan and so far about 865 people had been arrested. These people belonged to different local militant groups of country with connection to the said spy agencies.
“These are not our people. Look at Yadav and India blamed us for the Uri attack within 12 hours,” he said, adding that they could make mountain out of a molehill but ‘we cannot expose them despite having factual evidence’. The IB chief said after getting information about such spies the agency closes such cases due to their sensitivity. The chairperson demanded to provide him the lists of such people, adding that he would expose all of them on media so that the world may know. “Why we just close such files and do not talk about people who are damaging our country and its reputation?” he asked.
Sultan said it would take some time to improve the law and order and handle such challenges as, according to him, the seeds of militancy were sown for 30-40 years.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2016.