The Pakistani military establishment loves to hate Ajit Doval, India’s most celebrated spy in living memory, former chief of Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the current National Security Adviser.
The Pakistani print and electronic media as well as social media, particularly its Twitterati, are routinely flooded with anti-Doval stories. Doval has been at the receiving end of Pakistani Twitterati ever since he took over as the NSA.
Anything bad happening with Pakistan is quickly blamed on Doval. One only has to keep a close watch on the Pakistani social media network and what is trending on Pakistan Twitter. Very often Doval has been endowed with powers and prowess that make him seem superhuman.
But what has happened in past 24 hours is outlandish and brazen. Consider this. #DovalRunningISIS has been the top trending hashtag in Pakistan for past 24 hours.
Sample a few examples:
The Pakistani Twitterati is an amazing tribe; full of rancour against India and seemingly with a fertile imagination as well.
The Islamic State flags were waved in Kashmir for the first time in the recent past. Any right-thinking person would take it as an affront to the Indian state. But some in Pakistani social media see this awkward development as a strategy of Doval. For example, a young Pakistani lady named Fatima Ali tweeted: “ ISIS flags never shown before in Kashmir so it is clear it has links with Ajit Doval, new plan.”
Much has been written about Doval in Indian and international media, including by this writer. But a recap of his profile would be in order to convey why he is among the feared, and most hated, Indians in Pakistan.
The only police officer to be awarded the Kirti Chakra, India’s second highest peacetime gallantry award, the over 70-year-old Doval has been involved in every theatre of India’s security operations since the 1980s. He was in the thick of Intelligence Bureau (IB) operations till he retired as IB chief on 31 January, 2005.
His claim to fame within the Indian intelligence establishment in his early years was when he was an undercover agent in Pakistan for seven years, posing as a Pakistani Muslim in Lahore.
His mole act in the Golden Temple, in the days leading up to the Indian Army’s Operation Bluestar, provided crucial intelligence inputs to Indian security forces, which led to the success of the military operation. He had posed as a Pakistani spy and surveyed their preparations after gaining their confidence.
He was also India’s main negotiator when Indian Airlines flight IC-814 was hijacked from Kathmandu and flown to Kandahar with passengers as hostages in 1999. His exploits in Kashmir, where he infiltrated militant outfits and turned militants into peacemakers, is said to have turned the tide of insurgency, with a prominent anti-India militant Kuka Parray being his biggest convert.
He worked in the northeast too in the 1980s. In the 1980s when the Laldenga-led Mizo National Front had wreaked mayhem. But Doval was instrumental in winning over six of seven commanders of Laldenga, a development which forced him with no other option but to eke out of truce with the Indian government.
Those who may be wondering why Doval is viewed as a mix of James Bond and Henry Kissinger and virtually a modern Chanakya, this video offers a hint:
In this video, Doval is seen warning Pakistan that “If you do a Mumbai, you will lose Baluchistan”.
Doval talks of three points that India needs to incorporate in its Pakistan strategy: (i) transforming India’s “defensive” posture to an “offensive-defensive” one, which entails going to the place of origin of terror and taking out the terrorists rather than acting after an attack has occurred; (ii) raising the costs to unacceptable levels for Pakistan as it pursues terrorism as an instrument of its foreign policy and resort to “war by other means”; and (iii) outmatching and out-funding Pakistan in hiring of terrorists, who are no more than mercenaries.