ISLAMABAD: She may be behind bars but Madhuri Gupta is still sending paranoia on both sides of the border into overdrive.
A second secretary posted in the information section of the Indian High Commission in Islamabad, Gupta was arrested in New Delhi on Tuesday on charges of spying for Pakistan. And while the Indian investigators are worried about what she might have told and to whom, Pakistan’s intelligence analysts are concerned about the implications regarding the integrity of their networks. “If at all she was spying for Pakistan, she was indeed an asset,” defence analysts assert.
“And having an asset – no matter how insignificant – compromised should be considered a serious blunder in the craft.” So the questions to ask now,they say, are whether Gupta was caught because she got careless or was she compromised by her Pakistani handlers. And, because spooks – ex or otherwise – thrive on paranoia, these analysts are also wondering whether a mole in the Pakistani intelligence community led the Indians to Madhuri Gupta. “If Gupta was indeed spying for Pakistan, we need to conduct an extensive probe into the matter and if anyone within the Pakistani intelligence community is responsible, that person or persons must be severely dealt with,” says the analyst.
The integrity of the system depends on this, he insists. But finding out what really happened is easier said than done, argues security analyst Talat Masood who used to be a lieutenant general in the army. “The ISI must be investigating this issue but they will never publicly acknowledge anything,” he says. And such secrecy, the investigations and the mind games are part and parcel of spycraft. “Every Pakistan diplomat in India is trailed and every Indian diplomat in Pakistan is chased,” says Masood.
He also has his own theory about Gupta. “There’s a possibility Madhuri Gupta was actually planted by Indian intelligence but she began doublecrossing the Indians for monetary gain and got caught in the process.” Warming to his theory, and providing an insight into the way spooks think, he continues: “If so, this is a major loss for the Pakistani intelligence service as now Madhuri will tell her Indian investigators what information she had leaked and who were her handlers in Pakistan and how she got in touch with the Pakistan intelligence agents.” So what could she have provided? “Some information regarding the Ajmal Kasab case could have compromised her,” he muses.
“She was responsible for Urdu translations and lots of material on the Mumbai terrorist attacks was in Urdu. It is possible that some information that she had translated and which the Indian side didn’t want to disclose got into Pakistani hands. But nobody’s likely to know for sure, ever. Unless the intelligence community decides to share.