Arrest of NDS agents


WEB DESK: Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Ahmed Bugti addressed a press conference on Thursday where he disclosed the arrest of six agents – five Afghans and a Pakistani – of the Afghan intelligence agency, National Directorate of Security (NDS).

Staying at different Afghan refugee camps, he said, two of them carried out bomb blasts, while others engaged in targeted killings and subversive activities. They killed at least 40 innocent Pakistanis. It may be recalled that last month also security agencies had arrested an NDS operative from Chaman and recovered bombs, fuses and other lethal materials from him. These are deeply disturbing reports, though unsurprising. The NDS in fact is known to have within its ranks people who are hostile to Pakistan.

It may be recalled that last year the former NDS Chief Rahmatullah Nabil had absented himself from the signing of a cooperation agreement with the ISI, and later tendered his resignation due to differences with President Ashraf Ghani over his efforts for a rapprochement with Pakistan.

Understandably, the Home Minister had reason to be upset over Afghan agents creating violence and unrest in his province. He went to the extreme, however, when he demanded immediate repatriation of Afghan refugees, adding that in case that did not happen the local Baloch and Pakthtuns will kick them out. Although afterwards he acknowledged that he had gotten carried away and chosen wrong words to express his frustration, the statement may already have caused bad feeling among those concerned. In any case, it is for the federal government to deal with this sensitive political as well as humanitarian issue.

Aggressive rhetoric can play right into the hands of anti-Pakistan elements in NDS who are believed to be acting in cahoots with Indian intelligence agency RAW, whose senior field officer, Kulbushan Jadhav, was only recently arrested from Balochistan. The last thing this country needs at this point in time is more trouble with its neighbours that could lead it into isolation. It is good to note that the government has adopted the right approach.

In a much welcome rare move, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz, presided over the Foreign Office’s weekly briefing on Thursday, to make important conciliatory gestures towards both Afghanistan and Iran. The bilateral consultations with Afghanistan, the US and China – members of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group – he said, had begun to assess the situation in the aftermath of Mullah Mansour’s killing, and that efforts would also be made to persuade the Taliban to rejoin the peace process.

Regarding Iran, he wisely rejected worries voiced by some about the Iran-India agreement for the development of Chabahar port, with Indian assistance, as a rival transit hub to Pakistan’s Gwadar port, saying “these routes are all complementary to each other, and economics will decide which route is used more frequently and by whom.” These do not seem to be empty words of a good loser as he also said there is a proposal to make Gwadar and Chabahar sister ports, and that a road is being built to connect them, “so there is no conflict.” The focus hopefully will remain on mending fences with neighbours and increasing regional connectivity.- Business Recorder