More strange, Lavoy

Peter Lavoy, leading a Pentagon team to convince India to up its stake in Afghanistan, acted strange. May be he wears his intel background too seriously on his sleeve. In the dinner table conversation, I brought up the matter of Lt Gen Ausaf Ali, Director — Operations and Plans  the most important man in SPD (Strategic Plans Division) – the Pakistani nuclear command secretariat. And Lavoy acted mystified. He kept saying Khalid Kidwai, repeating it everytime I mentioned Ausaf. This was passing curious! I mean does Lavoy think that Ausaf and his position in SPD is secret, not known to anybody in India??? If it was a joke and he was playing the innocent, it was being taken too far.

I also said that, may be, GOI could condition India’s greater involement in Afghanistan on a  few stray US drones taking out, separately, you know who! And there was absolute silence from the Americans at the table — not a stir or a cough to break the tension for, as dinner table conversations go — a while. Not sure how to interpret the American reaction. Has such a quid pro quo been broached?

About Bharat Karnad

Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, he was Member of the (1st) National Security Advisory Board and the Nuclear Doctrine-drafting Group, and author, among other books of, 'Nuclear Weapons and Indian Security: The Realist Foundations of Strategy', 'India's Nuclear Policy' and most recently, 'Why India is Not a Great Power (Yet)'. Educated at the University of California (undergrad and grad), he was Visiting Scholar at Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, the Shanghai Institutes of International Studies, and Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, DC.
This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Geopolitics, India's Pakistan Policy, indian policy -- Israel, Iran and West Asia, Strategic Relations with the US & West. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to More strange, Lavoy

  1. vihan says:

    Lt. Gen. Kidwai retired some time back thus Lavoy’s claim of him as the DG, SPD is really strange. Maj Gen (later Lt. Gen I think) Ausaf Ali did supersede Kidwai as the new DG. This is all within the public domain and thus an intel official claiming otherwise is just incomprehensible.

    Regarding point 2, if a deal is through and its going to be done, its less likely to be done with a drone as everyone will know who to point the finger at. One of Obama’s greatest mistakes and that of other officials was to publicly mention and acknowledge the drone strikes it erased the term covert from covert operation, even Bruce Riedel admitted this in a talk.

  2. Yea, but the problem is a drone has a telltale whoosh-whine when it is coming in for attack and no one else has this weapon in this area. So, whether Obama went public with it or not would have made no great difference, the US would still have been blamed.

    • Ravi says:

      Not knowing that the Indian’s would be intimately cognizant with the SPD set up is absurd. Kidwai is done and dusted with. When he was DG-SPD, the two key operative assignments in the SPD based at, Chaklala were Ausaf Ali from the engineering Corps (DG-Operations & Plans) and Mohammed Tahir an infanrtry officer (DG-Security). Now that Ausaf Ali has been promoted to Lt. General, his responsibilities and domain will only have increased in the SPD.

      • Ravi says:

        OOOps, I forgot. Ausaf Ali bears a strong resemblance to the former India cricketer Saurav Ganguly.

      • vihan says:

        @Ravi: The more interesting point than that of his appearance as told by Bharat in his talk was that he is a Shia 🙂

      • Looking up Wikipedia (updated) on Pak Generals, Ausaf is listed as Major General (superceded). Assuming this is correct, this supercession means nothing because he’s still very much in in-charge, and will remain so for the forseeable future. My guess is he has chosen/been allowed to stay in place until and after retirement. Even so, why for form’s sake was he was not promoted Lt Gen? Perhaps to avoid rank clash with Kidwai who is still SPD figurehead.

    • vihan says:

      @Bharat: True, though it was still improper as deniability or at the least non comment for such ops is still needed regardless of what is observable on the ground. The smarter reply to the Pakistani allegation would have been to have unnamed sources tell the media “The Pakistani’s blame the US, Israel and India and their respective intel agencies for everything including that earthquake in Kashmir, must we comment on every allegation?”

  3. Even plausible deniability can take you only so far.

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