LAHORE/Quetta - Authorities yesterday claimed of arresting an ‘in-service RAW officer’ in Balochistan who is believed to be working for fanning unrest in the province by assisting separatists and seatrain outfits.

“Yes, it is true that our security forces carried out an intelligence guided raid in Chaman area near Pak-Afghan border and arrested a serving officer of Indian spy agency, RAW (Research and Analysis Wing),” Balochistan Home Minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti told The Nation.

Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, ISI, sources also claimed they have ‘blown a major RAW ring through this catch’. After initial interrogation by agency’s Balochistan office, the arrested man was moved to Islamabad for detailed investigation, they said.

As per them and other informed official sources, the RAW officer told the interrogators that his name is Bhoshan Yadav and he has been operating with the assistance of Afghanistan’s spy agency, NDS (National Directorate of Intelligence).

Sarfaraz Bugti said that Yadaw, earlier, was an official of Indian Navy who later was assigned the task to work for RAW in Balochistan. “He was assigned the task to contact militants working for sectarian and separatist organisations in Balochistan.”

Intelligence sources said as per initial investigation, the RAW officer had been operating from Kandhar province of Afghanistan and later he crossed into Balochistan after establishing his network of agents in the volatile province.

Asked about the rank and other members of RAW officer’s ring, they said sharing such information at this stage could jeopardise the hunt for his associates. They also refused to share exact information about the location of his catch in Balochistan.

However, they the intelligence sources claimed that it was not an accidental catch as the hunt for this specific person was on for quite some time. Asked about his name, they said that it could only be determined after thorough investigation that whether Yadav is his real name or just a cover.

Security officials said that detailed investigation to be carried out in the federal capital would determine if the Indian officer is a regular RAW official or the Indian agency has hired his service for short-term to build a network of agents and spread unrest in Balochistan.

Some expert ‘spy catchers’ who were stationed in Balochistan, Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa told the paper that the serving officers of hostile intelligence services like Mr Yadav are called non-official cover operatives (NOCs) who usually operate in the areas where they are hard to catch. The Afghan province of Kandhar tops the list of safe havens for such NOCs, they added.

They said that many NOCs operate under diplomatic cover in the High Commissions, embassies and consulates.

The RAW NOCs operate in Pakistan, Afghanistan and China under agency’s Office of Special Operations. They work under the command of Joint Secretary Area-1 (Pakistan Desk) and Joint Secretary Area-II (China and South Asia which includes Afghanistan), said the spy catchers while sharing their experience and knowledge.

The arrest of Indian spy comes at a crucial time. Pakistani officials are set to travel to India to discuss the Pathankot incident, which India has blamed on non-state actors based in Pakistan – specifically the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). Islamabad has assured New Delhi of full cooperation in this case.

However, the investigations made so far on the leads provided by India have not yielded any result, security sources said.

“We searched their (JeM leaders’) homes, seminaries, hideouts and also examined their call records for past three months and found nothing dubious,” a security official with links to the investigating team told a news agency.

Pakistan, on the other hand, has long maintained that India is using underhand tactics to try and destabilise the country. This includes attempts to paint a negative picture of Pakistan-Afghanistan relations in order to create tension between the two neighbors.

Sarfaraz Bugti, who said he himself had been attacked by RAW in the past, asserted that the arrest of RAW officer has once again proved that “India is involved in committing terrorism in Balochistan by patronising militants”.

Talking to The Nation, Balochistan home minister said RAW and Afghanistan’s NDS are working jointly to aid and abet the insurgents on Pakistani soil and Kandhar is the launching pad for these subversive and espionage operations.

“NDS is a satellite of RAW as for as anti-Pakistan operations are concerned. The Afghan government must remove rouge elements from its key security service to prove that Afghanistan’s security apparatus has really no hand in creating unrest in Pakistan,” added the home minister.

Tensions between Pakistan and India continue to bubble on multiple fronts, with unstable neighbour Afghanistan providing fertile ground for shady operations.

The intense flashing of the news of RAW officer’s arrest on media channels in Pakistan is likely to invite reaction from India whose intelligence agencies would be hard pressed to come up with similar catches of Pakistani agents to satisfy the home audience.

Some experts believe that tensions could be reduced and war at the level of intelligence agencies scaled down only through high-level talks and trust building measures between the two countries, something they say is essential for the common good of the people of the two states.