WASHINGTON DC-based Federation of American Scientists (FAS) is a privately funded non-profit policy organisation whose board of sponsors includes half of America'sliving Nobel laureates, says in its report Pakistan'sInter-Services Intelligence as having become ?a state within a state,? answerable neither to the leadership of the Army, nor to the President or the Prime Minister. The result is, there has been no real supervision of the ISI? Drug money was used by the ISI to finance not only the Afghanistan war, but also the proxy war against India in Punjab and Kashmir. The ISI reportedly supplies weapons, training, advice and planning assistance to terrorists in Kashmir and the North-east frontier areas of India. The question for us, is whether we are equipped to deal with the challenge posed by our neighbour. It is highlighted by the July 2006, bomb blasts in suburban trains which left over 200 hundred dead and more than 700 injured.
One Union Minister, in the former government told a gathering of intelligence officials that the Kargil conflict was a result of ?failure to converge the information into actionable intelligence which led to the subserving of national security.?
The point is, whether we have learnt, a lesson from our past mistakes, or are still fumbling around, as numerous terrorists incidents, bomb blasts, both in the commercial and financial capital show.
While talking to a police officer in the field, I asked him as to what is wrong with the intelligence. He said that things have gone from bad to worse, with the creation of a plethora of agencies for collecting intelligence. Most of them, sit in the police station or control room, and send reports based on the happening reported to the police station or information collected by the local police?
In our desire, to collect more and more intelligence, we have not only diluted the responsibility of the local officers incharge of the police stations, but have occasionally totally rid him, of the responsibility of gathering intelligence. It is the reports collected and collated from different levels and different sources, which go into the formulation of the National Policy on terrorism, or our relations, with other countries.
Intelligence coordination should be the heart of intelligence management, which includes gathering, and analysis. But for the reasons, that each department is an empire unto itself, we do not even have a clearly earmarked turf. Every agency is stepping, on the toes of others, for getting points to impress their respective bosses. Intelligence affecting our sovereignty is created on a similar trail by not only IB and RAW, but also military intelligence, BSF, the Customs, Enforcement Directorate, State police. In a mid night meeting, where I was also present during VP Singh'stime as Prime Minister, Mufti, whose daughter had kidnapped, when he was the Home Minister, remarked, that the intelligence agencies were more keen to inform him as to what was likely to happen, instead of passing on the actionable intelligence to the ground level,
The ideal arrangement is, to have all agencies assemble their information at one point, so that a entire and complete picture, is available to the decision makers. It is best, to do it, at the district level, whether they are the Central or State Agencies. Theoretically, Joint Intelligence Committee and National Security Council, exist and report to the National Security Adviser. But in actual practice, each agency works almost independently. Collection, collation and analysis of information is done by each intelligence agency almost in vacuum.. It is an open secret that governments in power misuse the agencies in bringing about a change in government compositions as well as indulging in toppling games, spying on every worthwhile individual, whether he is a politician or in other profession. In fact, late Rajiv Gandhi had openly accused, the then government in 1991, of keeping him under a watch. This allegation was also repeated by the then Congress president against the United Front Government Prime Minister in 1996 and 1997.
The bureaucracy and police, also weigh, as to what to report and what to water down, or what to eliminate. They want to make certain, that their bread is buttered on both sides. So they present their reports, including intelligence reports, in such a way, that they convey, only what the bosses would like to hear or believe. This kind of approach, proves their loyalty not to the boss, but also to his ideology. This technique and stance, not only helps them, in service, but also after the service inning is over. This fact can be confirmed from the number of Ambassadors, chairmen of a number of bodies, and even Governors from the ranks of civil service, who have been rewarded, not necessarily due to their work, but due to their ?Loyalty and ?Yes Sir?, ?You Are Always Right Sir?, stance. Retirement age for such worthies is irrelevant. They may be tired and unfit, but never retired. When I was Superintendent of Police, a senior officer told me, that the best approach is to guard your rear, front, left and right and then only take action. I told him, that he was entitled to his approach and style of working, but putting the facts as they are and not as bosses want, would be disloyalty to the country, Constitution and to my conscience. He said that sometimes telling the truth can harm your own interest. I left it at that. But the fact remains that ultimately, what kind of intelligence or investigating agencies the country will have, would depend on the political leadership and not on the bureaucracy. Even if the best intelligence, is presented, if the action is lacking, what is the use. It was Albert Einstein, who once said, that the world is a dangerous place, not because of those, who do evil, but because of those, who look on and do nothing. It is a stark truth, that whatever we do, we need courage.
(The writer is Former Director, CBI, India, and can be contacted at [email protected])