Tuesday, February 26, 2013



‘The Hindu” of February 26,2013, has carried an article  titled “ No Solace In This Quantum of Accountability” written by Samir Saran, Vice-President, and Abhijit Iyer-Mitra, Programme Co-Ordinstor of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF).It is about the accountability of the intelligence agencies.

2. My views on accountability are well known and I do not feel the need to repeat them. I wanted to comment on the following observation by the two writers: “ If folklore has it right, if R&AW had a charter, it would have legally pre-empted a former Prime Minister’s order to abandon operations in Pakistan. It cost India 30 years worth of accumulated ground assets and priceless reach.”

3. The reference is apparently to former Prime Minister Inder Gujral. It is not correct that Gujral ordered the R&AW operations in Pakistan to be abandoned. The R&AW had two kinds of operations in Pakistan---- for intelligence collection and covert action.

4.He ordered only the operations for covert action to be closed since he felt that such a gesture might facilitate his efforts to improve relations with Pakistan under the so-called Gujral Doctrine. He did not order the intelligence collection operations to be discontinued. It would have been stupid on his part  to have done so. He, like all our Prime Ministers before and after him, understood the importance of a good intelligence collection capability in Pakistan. What he ordered to be closed accounted for only about 15 per cent of the R&AW’s operations in Pakistan. He encouraged the remaining 85 per cent to continue.

5. There was a debate in the intelligence community over the wisdom of his order to wind up the covert action operations. Many senior officers met him and explained to him that building a covert action capability took a long time. If one day the Government felt the need for resuming covert actions, there would be no trained and experienced assets on the ground. It was suggested to him that if he felt strongly on the subject, the covert action operations should be suspended, but not discontinued. He could not be convinced.

6. When the NDA Government under Shri Atal Behari Vajpayee came to office, the intelligence community was hoping that he would cancel Gujral’s decision and order  the resumption of covert action operations in Pakistan. To their surprise, they found that Vajpayee too, like Gujral, wanted the R&AW to focus on intelligence collection in Pakistan and avoid operations for covert action.

7. Some serving officers, who felt disappointed by the reluctance of Vajpayee to  resume covert actions, arranged a meeting for me with Brajesh Mishra, the then National Security Adviser. I met him in his office in New Delhi, and explained to him the importance of resuming our covert action operations in Pakistan.

8. He gave me a patient hearing and said: “ I am already convinced. You don’t have to convince me. But the Prime Minister (Vajpayee) thinks otherwise. We have to carry out his wishes.”

9.There the matter ended. Even if the R&AW had a charter, there was no question of its being able to pre-empt Gujral’s orders. As R.N.Kao used to say, the R&AW and the IB are the two clandestine swords of the Prime Minister. It is upto him to decide how they will be used. His desires and orders have to be observed. No intelligence chief can overlook them---charter or no charter. (26-2-13)

( The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt of India)


Unknown said...

I found lot of interesting stuff in your post.Thanks for sharing the such information with us. Silicone Sealants

Unknown said...

Thanks sir,You Have cleared a big area of darkness in my mind & thanks again for Ordinary people like me who for last umpteen years have felt a Strong India,which without Two Great arms Of PM,RAW&IB couldn't have survived to Achieve Rightful place in this World

vk said...

Sir, can you explain the view, why the two prime ministers were so strongly convinced on closing the covert operations, when all R&AW chiefs wanted it to continue.

What was their conviction ?

toothy said...

Dear Mr Raman,
In your world there orders and there is dictum of necessity. To say that IB and RAW are two sword arms of PM to me highlights the very necessity of the debate raised in the article that is of accountability.
By your admission these two agencies can be used and manipulated by the PM based on his judgment and necessity. In our political system is first among equals and there is collective responsibility to the constitution and the nation.
There has to be logic and rationale for the order, unless you do not wish to disclose which will be acceptable provided you say so. lastly what about intelligence communities own responsibility to the nation. according to today's TOI intelligence inputs quality is consistently waning.
have these orders curtailed Indian options? If so who is to be blamed, by your silence on UPA government, it appears they seem to have lifted the ban or is it still in place?

peter g. said...


Yes , I.K.Gujral and Atal Bihari Vajpayee were to a certain extent responsible for emasculating RAW as far as PAK was concerned. What about the other great man Morarjee Desai? Have you forgotten him? He pulled out its teeth and broke its legs because he believed that Indira Gandhi had used the organisation to her own benefit to spy on the opposition.Within a couple of months after he took over as the PM, Morarjee himself used RAW to gather information on the opposition parties.You may know this, I guess.All the three gentlemen in question may been adept and dyed in the wool politicians but it would not be wrong to say that they had not the slightest grasp of the basics of the intricacies of intelligence gathering,the difficult business of building int assets,and the need for keeping covert actions running in the target country.Once in the PM's chair all the three gentlemen, to put it mildly , appeared to be astounded by their own wisdom and this , combined with the heady feeling of being the rulers of a great nation prevented them from listening to the saner counsels of career int officers of those times with whom you have worked.Two of former PM's mentioned here, it is said, believed that there was no subject under the sun that they did not know of and were said to have even given advice to their personal physicians on medical subjects.Such was their wisdom.

Unknown said...

There has to be logic and rationale for the order, unless you do not wish to disclose which will be acceptable provided you say so. lastly what about intelligence communities own responsibility to the nation.

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