LONDON - Former RAW Chief AS Dulat, who headed India’s external intelligence agency during 1999-2000, said there were instances when interaction between RAW and ISI had “produced more than the desired results”, and Ehsan had been witness to at least one such major result, Hindustan Times has quoted former spymaster during an interactive session with his Pakistani counterpart General (R) Ehsan in London School of Economics.
Amid knowing guffaws and smiles, Dulat chided Ehsan and reminded him of his “relationship” with his Indian counterpart, of India tipping off Pakistan about a potential threat to the life of former president Pervez Musharraf, and of covert talks defusing a major flashpoint in the early 2000s.
Dulat said: “He (Ehsan) is still using the ploy of plausible deniability and being rather modest about his relationship which was well known. And from all that I know it was a great relationship that produced results. I think Sir, you recall the 2003 ceasefire took place because of you and your friend.”
The remarks evoked laughter from Ehsan.
Dulat added, “And if I can go beyond, your friend also tipped you with intelligence which may have saved Gen Musharraf’s life. And I think that is something that even Gen Musharraf in a way acknowledges. So I don’t think we need to deny that. It is a feather in your cap, Sir, and a feather in your friend’s cap.”
Ehsan was made the head of the ISI in October 2001, weeks after the 9/11 attacks in the US, and remained in the post for three years. His elevation was part of a reshuffle carried out by Musharraf to purge the military and intelligence agencies of officers who were considered sympathetic to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
In early 2004, media reports had suggested that a tip-off from then RAW chief CD Sahay to Ehsan had helped thwart an attempt on the life of Musharraf, who had survived two assassination attempts in December 2003. At the time, Islamabad had strongly denied receiving any tip-off from India.