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Thread: Espionage case shatters Pakistan army’s myths

  1. #1
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Mar 2006

    Default Espionage case shatters Pakistan army’s myths

    A curious report on an Indian newspaper website written by a ret'd Pakistani diplomat, now in the USA and the full title is: 'Espionage case shatters Pakistan army’s myths -and the belief its nuke secrets are secure'. The sub-title: 'The recipient of secrets shared by convicted Pakistani officials was not ‘permanent enemy’ India – but the country that gives it billions of dollars.'

    It opens with:
    three individuals, including a recently retired three-star general, on charges of espionage and revealing classified information to foreign intelligence agencies seriously dents the charisma that helps keep Pakistan’s army in charge of the country. The fact that senior military officers spied for a foreign country suggests that Pakistan is not as safe in the hands of the men in uniform as is suggested.
    If, as has been learnt, the secrets shared by the convicted officers are related to Pakistan’s nuclear programme, the case would increase Pakistan’s paranoia about the security of its nuclear arsenal. Considering that the foreign intelligence service that paid for the secrets shared by the convicted officers belonged to the United States, there is a greater adversarial relationship between Pakistan and the US than is often revealed.

    (An important sentence, held my bold) Now, it turns out that in a country controlled by the army, the individuals with access to secrets that might interest a foreign intelligence service come from within the army.
    This post could fit in several threads; ISI, US-Pakistani relations and others. Meantime it rests here.

  2. #2
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Mar 2006

    Default Context & Insight

    Hamid Hussain, our regular contributor, has a commentary on the verdicts; below is an edited down version, if the full text is required PM me please:
    Pakistan army spokesperson announced on 30 May 2019 that two army officers and one civilian were tried by a Field General Court Martial (FGCM) for spying and passing information to foreign intelligence agencies and convicted. No details were provided about charges and results of investigations. Usually FGCM proceedings are not made public. Army is very concerned about the negative fallout especially public opinion and generally restricts circulation of any negative information. This is true of all armies and Pakistan army is no exception. However, in 21st century, a candid discourse barring release of sensitive or operational details, sharing general information prevents speculation and rumours. This enhances the strength of the institution where public has more trust in the accountability process of the institution. It will take some time before we know the details of this incident when officers involved in investigations and FGCM proceedings provide details. Retired Lieutenant General Javed Iqbal Awan was awarded fourteen years imprisonment and retired Brigadier Raja Rizwan Haider and a civilian Dr. Wasim Akram were awarded death sentence. It is likely that some other officers who came under the radar during this investigation will face inquiry and many a career will end. Some innocents will go down with the guilty.

    Javed is from a military family and from traditional recruiting grounds of Chakwal. His father was Major, and his brother retired at Colonel rank. After his early education at Military College Sarai Alamgir, he joined Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) at Kakul. He was commissioned in 9th Frontier Force Regiment. He was an above officer but a very hard-working individual. His career path was typical of an officer destined for higher ranks. He served as instructor at PMA and Staff College Quetta and commanded Rawalpindi based 111 Brigade. He attended United States Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. After promotion to Major General rank, he first commanded a division in Bahawalpur and then Jhelum. He was then appointed Director General Military Operations (DGMO). This is most important posting at Major General rank and usually held by an officer destined for further promotion. In April 2011, he was promoted to Lieutenant General rank and appointed Adjutant General (AG) and in December 2013, he was appointed Corps Commander of XXXI Bahawalpur Corps. He retired in April 2015.
    Brigadier Raja Rizwan Haider is from Khanpur. His father was a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) of Engineers. Rizwan completed his early education from cadet college Hassan Abdal; a nursery for Pakistan army officers. He joined 68th PMA course and commissioned in 10th Frontier Force Regiment. He was a bright officer and successfully climbed promotion ladder serving at command, staff and instructional appointments. He commanded a Brigade in tribal areas with good reputation. He served as Defence Attaché in Germany from 2009-12. He was superseded at Brigadier rank and retired in 2014. He is a handsome chap and fond of pretty faces.
    Javed Iqbal and Rizwan were likely recruited when they were posted abroad. Recruitment inside Pakistan is very difficult due to robust counter-intelligence operations of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB). We don’t know what kind of information was passed on. Javed had served as DGMO and in that position privy to all operational plans. It is not clear how much information DGMO has about nuclear assets deployment. If he is in the loop, then this information is very valuable. There is no available evidence of any other motive and it appears that financial gain was main motive. It is almost certain that CIA recruited him.
    I have not been able to confirm if Rizwan did a stint at Counter Terrorism directorate of ISI. If he had served at ISI, then information about Pakistan’s counter-terrorism operations is the information he may have passed. In his capacity as Brigade commander or as Defence Attaché in Germany, there is nothing unique information that he possessed. He had a liking for pretty faces and in addition to money, there is possibility of a ‘honey trap’. It is not clear whether he was cultivated by CIA or RAW. Some sources suggest that IB stumbled on his case during a raid to net some other culprits. Both officers were arrested in September-October 2018. In January 2019, military spokesperson admitted that they were in custody for espionage charges.
    Dr. Wasim Akram is a PhD doctor and worked in a nuclear facility. He was likely recruited by CIA to pass on information about the work he was familiar with. Army spokesperson claimed that these cases were separate and not part of a network. Even if same agency had recruited them, such operations are usually run in ‘silos’ where one team usually does not know about the work of the other team. This is essential to prevent unravelling of multiple projects if one set of birds is netted.
    Two separate trials of accused were held under Pakistan Army Act and Official Secrets Act. Few months ago, I had heard that capital punishment was on the cards that suggested seriousness of the charges. Punishment also is based on the nature of the information leaked. All leaks are not equal. We don’t know the exact nature of charges and evidence It is a sad chapter that has come to an end. These are the spider webs of the dark art and gods of espionage sometimes want human sacrifice.
    Javed Iqbal was sentenced to fourteen years imprisonment while Brigadier Rizwan and Dr. Wasim Akram were sentenced to death. The question is whether difference of sentence relates to the nature of information passed on or which agency recruited them. If the nature of crime is same but Wasim got capital punishment because he divulged nuclear secrets; a more serious crime and Rizwan passed on information to RAW; a sure ticket to gallows. Some are asking question whether Javed was spared the gallows because of his rank and connections while JCO’s son sent to gallows. They are of the view that being senior and privy to more sensitive information; if crime is same then he should have faced the same sentence. Another question that must be on the minds of senior officers involved in sentencing is the climate in the country. Recently, army has taken a very hard stance against Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) accusing them to be agents of hostile intelligence agencies. In this environment, showing leniency to fellow officers who are not simply accused but convicted of this crime would not go well.
    This decision of army brass was a correct one and even harshest critics of army have praised the army brass. However, now pause and reflection is needed. I see a clear and present danger, where some senior officers citing this evidence advocating for maximum punishment for PTM leaders now under custody. The two cases are totally different and any such action either due to anger or arrogance will have very serious consequences.
    The references to the PTM are explained on a parallel thread which cites this BBC report:
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-06-2019 at 07:21 PM. Reason: 119v today

  3. #3
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Now an Indian commentary

    A short commentary by an Indian SME:

    Two selected passages:
    There are indications that the sentencing of top Pakistani army officers and a civilian to harsh punishments on May 31 for ‘espionage and leaking of sensitive information to foreign agencies’ is closely related to the breakdown of the established protocol on intelligence liaison between Pakistan and the US.
    A taut comment on the author of the first article:
    The Pakistan army also forced ambassador Hussain Haqqani, its US envoy, to resign for seeking secret American help to prevent a military coup (‘Memogate’). Haqqani has now published an alarming piece in India that this incident is an indication of a total breakdown of Pakistan’s security and of its nuclear arsenal in the hands of the military. One need not attach too much importance to this assessment as Haqqani was a harsh critic of India till 2014,

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