Location: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Studied in Govt. College, Lahore, Punjab University,Peshawar University & Zagreb University(Croatia). Started writing when in 7th class. Wrote prose & poetry,Have published writings in almost every Pakistani Urdu & English magazine and newspaper,held important positions in many literary and professional organizations. worked as a teacher, research scientist and industrial management professional, In the words of Arthur Miller I have always felt as being temporary. That is why there was no significant achievement.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Book Review: The World Was Going our Way

(The KGB and the Battle for the Third World)
Authors: Christopher Andrew and Vasili Mitrokhin
Publisher: Basic Books New York
Pages: 675 Price:$29.95


Dr Afzal Mirza

In America the classified documents of various departments are declassified periodically so that the public especially the academia could have access to them .Some people who have contacts in the administration sometimes lay their hands on some beefy classified information and produce articles and books. So there are several books based on the material pertaining to CIA operations in various countries of the world especially the third world countries.. In this context one could name The Inside Story by Andrew Tully (1962), The CIA-- A Forgotten Story by William Blum (1986) and The Cultural Cold War by Saunders (2000). Recently two other books on CIA activities have come in the market i.e. CIA at War by Kessler and the Trial of Henry Kissinger. But there was hardly any material available concerning Soviet intelligence agency KGB as Russians strictly guarded their secrets. Vasili Mitrokhin a KGB employee who was in 1972 made responsible for moving the KGB’s foreign intelligence archives to a new headquarters outside Moscow spent more than a decade clandestinely making notes and transcripts of these highly classified material. He then hid it beneath the floor of his house. After the fall of Soviet Empire Mitrokhin tried to pass on this material to American Embassy in Latvia but they refused to accept it doubting about its credibility. He then passed it on to the British embassy who involved Christopher Andrew a professor of history at Cambridge University to decipher and retrieve the material whose many pages had all gone soiled and unreadable. The result was their joint first book entitled The Sword and the Shield (1999) based on the Soviet secret operations in Europe and America. Now the present book being the second volume of Mitrokhin Archives has appeared a year after Mitrokhin’s death in 2004. Andrew has given the detailed biography of Mitrokhin in the foreword to the book. Unlike other non-fictional books The World makes interesting reading as it covers Asia, The Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

Though the book carries interesting description of KGB’s involvement in the third world countries and its liaisons with the leadership of those countries it also provides information on KGB’s local agents revealing names of some of them while others have been mentioned under their code names. The part of the book dealing with Asia could be of special interest to us because it tells about KGB’s operations in Pakistan and it’s role during various events leading to the break-up of the country. It was always an open secret that KGB like its American rival CIA provided funds to some organizations and local operators but the most interesting thing is the way KGB influenced the public opinion and created bias among the leaders about their opponents. The authors open the chapter on Pakistan with the statement,” The Soviet Union’s special relationship with India drastically limited its influence in Pakistan. Gromyko (Soviet Foreign Minister) complained of the ‘insidious (Western) web’ into which Pakistan fell almost at the outset of her existence as an independent state. The KGB also found authoritarian military regimes which governed Pakistan for most of the cold war period more difficult to penetrate than India’s ruling Congress Party.” The authors write that according to the KGB files about twenty leading Karachi and Hyderabad communists set up a small underground party with the cover name “Sindh Provincial Committee” which maintained secret contact with KGB’s Karachi residency. The Committee was kept going by an annual Soviet subsidy of $25-30000. Another small Communist underground party in East Pakistan also received covert funding…. Moreover a number of SPC leaders made what KGB considered handsome profits from the privileged trading contracts with the Soviet Union.” According to the authors during Ayub’s period the KGB had a number of agents in the Pakistan foreign ministry and diplomatic corps who provided information by photographing documents. “The most senior Pakistani diplomat identified in the files as GREM was recruited in 1965 and became ambassador later on. The only KGB agent in the Foreign Ministry whose identity can be revealed is Abu Sayid Hasan (codenamed GULYAM)…After his foreign assignments in 1979 before his death he moved to the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport.” The one who served them very diligently was ALI who held a senior position in the military communications centre in Rawalpindi

According to the authors the main job of these agents was to spread suspicion of the United States.”The main target of the influence operation was the flamboyant Foreign Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.The operation REBUS in the a spring of 1966 was principally designed to reinforce Bhutto’s hostility to the United States by passing to the Pakistan government forged documents that US ambassador McConuaghy was plotting the overthrow of Ayub Khan, Bhutto and other ministers. The operation seems to have some effect at least on Bhutto who was convinced for the rest of his life that his removal from office in June 1966 was the result of American pressure.” As Yahya took over the power the KGB then embarked upon operation RAVI to make Yahya Khan suspicious of both China and USA. After this operation came operation PADMA which was meant to persuade Yahya Khan that Chinese are inciting rebellion in East Pakistan. Mitrokhin writes that, “ after the partition of India in 1947 when shown a map of the divided Pakistani state Stalin had commented,’ Such a state cannot survive for long.’ ” So in 1969 KGB started to cultivate Sheikh Mujibur Rehman. In the eyes of Russians Mujib was more acceptable as he had no deeper relations with China as against Bhutto who was not acceptable to both Russia and USA. Mitrokhin writes, “ It was evident by the fact that no significant Soviet dignitary visited Pakistan during ZAB’s five and half years’ tenure in office despite his own two visits to Moscow.”

Regarding KGB’s influence in Pakistani media the book relates,” During the mid-1970s the KGB substantially increased its influence in the Pakistani media. In 1973 according to KGB statistics it placed 33 articles in the Pakistani press –little more than 1 percent of the number in India. By 1977 the number had risen to 440 and the KGB had acquired direct control of at least one periodical….Disinformation fed to Bhutto government claimed that the United States considered Pakistan too unreliable an ally to deserve substantial military aid. Washington was allegedly increasingly distrustful of Bhutto’s government and regarded Shah of Iran as its main regional ally. The Shah was determined to become the leader of the Muslim world and to regard Bhutto as a rival. He was also reported to be scornful of Bhutto’s failure to deal with unrest in Baluchistan and to be willing to send in Iranian troops if situation worsened there. By 1975 the KGB was confident that active measures were having a direct personal influence on Bhutto….Among the initiatives by Bhutto that annoyed the Kremlin was his campaign for a new economic world order to redress the grave injustice to the poorer nations of the world. “ Bhutto’s plan to hold non-aligned summit in Islamabad in 1976 was also seen with disfavor in Kremlin so KGB embarked upon a plan to discredit Bhutto’s initiative and the countries like Somalia, Nigeria, Ghana, Cyprus, Yemen, Mexico, Venezuela, Iraq, Afghanistan and Nepal were approached with the message that Islamabad conference would weaken the NAM.” So instead of the conference the government of ZAB was overthrown by the army in 1977.

Thereafter the KGB offensive started against Ziaulhaq because of his involvement in the Afghan war but Zia was kept informed by CIA of the measures taken by KGB that included to devise ways of working with Pakistani opposition forces to destabilize and eventually overthrow the Zia regime.. Here the authors have given details of the activities of Murtaza Bhutto and his Al-Zulfikar outfit and various KGB operations in collaboration with Murtaza. Most of the details of these activities have been incorporated by Andrew borrowing information from Raja Anwar’s book The Terrorist Prince. KGB also tried to create dissensions in the Pakistani Army by printing pamphlets and planting news in India concerning Pakistan’s piling up of chemical and biological weapons. The authors conclude the chapter on Pakistan by saying, ”When Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s daughter Benazir became Prime Minister after Zia’s death in 1988 she showed little enthusiasm for Mujahideen operations in the final stages of war. Had she become Prime Minister earlier or Zia been assassinated in 1982 the history of war in Afghanistan would have been significantly different.”

This voluminous book has plenty of material on other countries like Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Israel, Japan, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan , Cuba, Chile etc. Mitrokhin has mentioned how Indira Gandhi had gone close to Soviet Union or how they influenced Allende in Chile or influenced Mujib in Bangladesh. All in all the book is worth reading but the question of credibility remains unanswered as Christopher Andrew has tried to fill up the gaps in the stories by relying on various non-Russian books. For instance the whole Bhutto period has been covered by quoting from Rafi Raza and Raja Anwar’s books. Frankly speaking the book does not consist of the Mitrokhin’s papers alone but has been supplemented by Andrew’s own studies as he is considered as an expert in strategic intelligence and has been assisting CIA . (End)


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