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April 2004

KGB Active Measures in Southwest Asia in 1980-82


The intervention of Soviet forces in Afghanistan in December 1979 provoked sharp protests from the world community. The KGB took various measures, including some involving disinformation, to neutralize the negative response and distract attention from the activities of the USSR and its forces in Afghanistan.

The KGB devised a doctrine according to which the choice of means to combat the adversary did not depend on the KGB but was dictated by necessity, by the adversary's conduct; therefore any KGB activities were supposedly legitimate and justified.

[“]Disinformation is regarded as one of the instruments of CPSU policy; it is an integral, indispensable and secret element of intelligence work. It not only serves the interests of our own people but also those of working people throughout the world; it represents one of the forms of international assistance to progressive mankind and is radically different in essence from the disinformation to which Western agencies resort in order to deceive public opinion. KGB disinformation operations are progressive; they are designed to mislead, not the working people but their enemies - the ruling circles of capitalism, in order to induce them to act in a certain way, or abstain from actions contrary to the interests of the USSR; they promote peace and social progress; they serve international détente; they are humane, creating the conditions for the noble struggle for humanity's bright future.[”]

[“]The main value of all Active Measures lies in the fact that it is difficult to check the veracity of the information conveyed and to identify the real source. Their effectiveness is expressed as a coefficient of utility, when minimum expenditure and effort achieves maximum end results. Forms of disinformation basically fall into three groups—documentary (written); non-documentary (oral); demonstrative.[”]

[“]In KGB Residencies, the Residents are personally responsible for work relating to Active Measures. In large residencies, Active Measures constitute an autonomous direction of intelligence work; specialists in this kind of work are assigned to it. The KGB Chairman's Order No 0066 of 12 April 1982 required all FCD [First Chief Directorate] departments and personnel to participate in devising and carrying out Active Measures; young officers were to be given a taste for such work; Active Measures were to be regarded as one of the basic forms of intelligence activity. Officers of Service A were to display initiative and ability to act independently when solving both simple and complex questions. Anyone who had to be told day by day what he was to do was unsuitable for this kind of work.[”]


In February 1980, Andropov approved a KGB plan of action relating to Pakistan which specified the following:

[“]1. Through KGB SCD [Second Chief Directorate] assets, a warning is to be conveyed to the Pakistan Mission in Moscow to the effect that if a sensible line does not prevail in [Pakistani leader] Zia-ul Haq's political course, and Pakistan agrees under pressure from the US and China to turn its territory into a base for permanent armed struggle against Afghanistan, the Oriental Studies Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences will be instructed to study ways of exploiting the Baluchi(1)
and Pushtun(2) movements in Pakistan, as well as internal opposition to the country's military regime, in the interests of the security of the frontiers of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan (DRA).

2. Using operational-technical means, 500 copies of leaflets produced at the Center are to be disseminated in Islamabad and Karachi; some of these, issued in the name of a group of Pakistani Army officers, sharply criticize the government's internal and external policy, which is leading to a constant deterioration of the country's material situation.

3. Three hundred leaflets codenamed ‘SARDAR' are to be produced, demonstrating to the administration that there is extreme dissatisfaction with its policy in public and military circles.

4. Information is to be planted in the local press in Pakistan to the effect that the ruling regime is artificially whipping up the atmosphere relating to events in Afghanistan with the object of building up the Pakistani Army, further increasing its influence in the country, and maintaining the ban on the activities of political parties and organisation for an indefinite period.

5. In Bangkok, information is to be conveyed to the Pakistan Mission to the effect that within the Carter Administration there are doubts about the utility of further increases in military assistance to Pakistan, given the Zia-ul Haq regime's unpopularity in the country. [US] Secretary of State [Cyrus] Vance and his assistants consider that, in order to avert another major failure of US foreign policy, it is imperative to seek to replace the dictatorship with another regime which would guarantee stability in Pakistan.

6. In India, information is to be conveyed to Prime Minister Gandhi to the effect that Pakistan is not satisfied with the insignificant scope of American military assistance and the condition imposed on it to abstain from exploding a nuclear device while the American assistance program is in force. The leaders of Pakistan intend to continue to whip up hysteria over the events in Afghanistan in order to obtain a significant increase in military assistance from the US and the lifting of restrictions on the development of the nuclear program.

7. Through the UN leadership, information is to be conveyed to representatives of Iran to the effect that, in return for growing military assistance to Pakistan, the US is seeking to be granted military bases on Pakistani territory, including in Baluchistan, in close proximity to the Iranian frontier. The leaders of Pakistan are inclined to make concessions to the Americans on this issue.

8. In various circles in member countries of the Non-aligned Movement steps are to be taken to discredit Pakistan's foreign policy, emphasizing that it has breached the basic principles of the Non-aligned Movement, as the leaders of Pakistan have allowed the US and China, two of the great powers, to turn the country into an instrument of their policy in Asia.

9. In India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Indonesia, Jordan, Italy and France, there is to be continued publication of materials about the direct involvement of the Pakistani special services and military servicemen in organizing armed interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.[”]

On 2 September 1980, [KGB chief Vladimir] Kryuchkov approved an extension of the above plan. A Working Group was set up under the Deputy Head of the KGB FCD, V.A. Chukhrov, with representatives from Directorates K and RT, Service 1 and Service A, and Departments 8, 17 and 20. The Group was tasked to devise complex agent measures, coordinate the joint actions of all FCD Sections, and monitor implementation. The Head of the Third Department of Service A, Colonel Yu. V Rykhlov, coordinated and concerted the implementation of Active Measures, as a member of the Chukhrov Working Group.

In February 1981, the Working Group devised a wide-ranging operational plan code-named ‘TORKHAM.' This was to be carried out in various countries, in accordance with individual plans which included the following elements: compromise the Zia-ul Haq regime; weaken the positions of the US and China in Pakistan; exacerbate relations with Iran; intensify and deepen disagreements between India and Pakistan on existing disputed issues; inspire new irritants in Indo-Pakistan relations; reinforce the antipathy and suspicion felt by Indira Gandhi and other Indian leaders towards Zia-ul Haq personally; compromise him in the eyes of the Muslims of India and other countries in the world; induce the government of India to seek to secure the end of Pakistan's support for the Afghan rebels; step up the activities of Pakistani émigrés and of the nationalist movement, particularly in Baluchistan; disrupt Afghan émigré organizations; intensify the local population's hostility towards Afghan refugees.

Information was to be conveyed to India and Iran to the effect that by building up its military potential Pakistan was in fact preparing for aggression not only against Afghanistan, but also against India and Iran. India was to be told that Zia-ul Haq was giving Afghan refugees an anti-Indian outlook and using Afghan emissaries to conduct activities favorable to Pakistan in India. The plan also provided for intensified anti-Pakistan propaganda directed at India and other countries abroad, and the setting up of a Committee for the return to India of the Pakistan-occupied part of Kashmir. Disinformation was to be conveyed to Gandhi on joint operations by the US, Pakistan and the People's Republic of China to destabilize the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

In Bangladesh, the aim was to impede actions by the Zia-ur Rakhman regime in support of the Afghan counter-revolution, and to intensify disagreements between Bangladesh and Pakistan on such disputed issues as the repatriation of Pakistani citizens, the division of banking assets and so on, and the responsibility of Pakistan's ruling circles for the economic backwardness of Bangladesh.

The aim was to impede the activities of the US, Pakistan and the People's Republic of China relating to the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.In 1981-82, the following Active Measures were envisaged within the framework of the ‘TORKHAM' operation:
[“] I

• Produce a leaflet in Urdu sharply criticizing the Pakistan regime and its
cooperation with the US, from the standpoint of local religious (Shiite) circles. Implicate the Iranian authorities in the production of the leaflet by including in the text appropriate comments by Khomeini about Zia-ul Haq. Implementation: posting the leaflet to various establishments, newspapers and foreign missions in Islamabad, and scattering copies in Karachi.

• In the name of a fictitious grouping in the Pakistani armed forces, disseminate
leaflets (in English, as part of the ‘SARDAR' series) from which it could be concluded that there is growing dissatisfaction among the military about Zia-ul Haq's policy of redirecting Pakistan towards conflict with the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and India, and subordinating the country to foreign interests— those of the US and China. These leaflets to be disseminated in Islamabad and Karachi.

• Using available models, produce a ‘personal letter' from Pakistan's Home Affairs
Minister, Mahmud Harun, who represents the Shiite minority in the government, to the Iranian leader, Imam Khomeini. Indicate in the letter that Zia-ul Haq intends to take severe new measures to restrict the activity of Shiites in Pakistan, and that they [the Shiites] appeal to their Iranian brethren for help to avert this threat. Send a photocopy of the letter, with a covering note from ‘a well wisher' to one of the leaders of Pakistan's military special service.

• Complete the elaboration of proposals for exploiting the separatist movement of Pakistani Baluchis and Pakistani opposition forces located in the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan.

• Place compromising material in the press of various countries.[”]

[“] II

• Promote by all means an intensification of the Pakistani population's hostility towards Afghan refugees and the disruption of the Afghan emigration in Pakistan.

• Disseminate disinformation in the Pakistani community to the effect that in reality
the Zia-ul Haq regime is not seeking to solve the Afghan refugee problem and would like to turn it into a permanent feature. The presence of refugees from the DRA gives the government the possibility of obtaining substantial material assistance, isolating the Baluchi and Pushtun nationalist movement and increasing the severity of the central authorities' control in districts where they mainly located.

• Convey information to Pakistani government and journalistic circles to the effect that some leaders of the Afghan emigration, such as [radical Islamist mujaheddin (Hizb-i Islami) leader] G[ulbuddin] Hekmatyar and N. Mohammad, who seek to keep Pushtun tribes under their influence, are promising to help them to set up an independent Pushtunistan on the territory of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

• Convey information to the Pakistani special services to the effect that a significant
portion of the weapons reaching the Afghan refugees is sold on to activists and officials of opposition political parties who have established permanent undeclared contact with leading personalities within the Afghan counter-revolutionary emigration in Pakistan.

• Through the country's press, disseminate information about growing disagreements among the leaders of Afghan emigration in Pakistan, their dissatisfaction with the Zia-ul Haq administration, and their attempts to develop cooperation with the special services of the US, the People's Republic of China, Saudi Arabia, out of the Pakistani authorities' control.

• To disrupt the Afghan emigration, make use of the DRA [Democratic Republic of Afghanistan]'s special services, with the help of the Afghans themselves. [”]

[“] III

• Carry out Active Measures to expose cooperation between Washington, Peking and the Zia-ul Haq regime in connection with the development of Pakistan's own atomic weapon.

• Convey information to India, Bangladesh and other countries with the object of inducing them to take actions favorable to the USSR. Some measures [are] to be carried out jointly with the General Staff of the USSR Armed Forces.

• Convey information to the press of Asian countries, in Dhaka, Delhi, Colombo and to Pakistani missions in these places, to the effect that the expansion of military cooperation between Pakistan and the US will inevitably entail the establishment of US military bases on Pakistan territory, the influx of military advisers, and the arrival of American ships in Pakistan harbors, all of which can undermine Pakistan's relations with Islamic and non-aligned countries and further incline the USSR, India and Iraq against Pakistan, and these can give active support to forces opposed to the Zia-ul Haq regime.

• Through the possibilities of India and of the UN Secretary [General], convey information to the US to the effect that the Reagan administration's plans to expand military and other assistance to Pakistan will provoke an extremely negative reaction within the democratic opposition to the Zia-ul Haq regime. If the precarious Zia-ul Haq dictatorship is overthrown, the US would be faced with rising anti-American feelings in that country on the same scale as in Iran.

• Through the Hungarians, convey information to NATO ruling circles about theweakness of the Zia-ul Haq regime, the growing strength of the opposition, including in the Pakistan Army, and the instability of the situation in the country.

• In Dhaka, inspire parliamentary questions and speeches, declarations by public and political personalities and leaders of the main opposition parties, urging the government to display caution when solving the problem of ‘Bihari' repatriation and to facilitate the dispatch of a UN mediation commission to Bangladesh with the object persuading Pakistan to repatriate Pakistani citizens most urgently and getting the Zia-ul Haq administration to use the funds provided by Saudi Arabia for the proper purpose, and not for backing the Afghan counter-revolution.

• In Delhi, convey information to the effect that the US and NATO have plans to
set up an anti-Indian alliance in South Asia in which Pakistan would plan a key role. Western countries are not only strengthening Pakistan's military might but also encouraging its subversive activity against India and inciting it to inflame disputes between Hindus and Muslims, as well as the Sikh aspiration to set up an independent Khalsalistan.

• In Dhaka, convey slanted information to Indian diplomats about the Pakistani leadership's aggressive intentions against India, the junta's strategic plans, aroused by the practical actions of the US and the People's Republic of China which aim to weaken India's positions in the subcontinent in every way and rapidly build up Pakistan's military potential.

• In Tehran, regularly supply the Iranian leadership with disinformation about
Pakistan's use of Afghan émigrés to pass arms to Baluchistan and Arab
separatists in Iran and to instigate mass disorders and anti-government incidents in
the provinces of Khuzestan [in Southwestern Iran], Sistan [in Eastern Iran] and Baluchistan.[”]

In March 1981, in addition to the above ‘TORKHAM' plan of action, a plan code-named ‘GVADAR' [Gwadar] was devised with the object of exploiting the Baluchi problem to influence the policy of Pakistan. The Deputy Head of Service A of the FCD, Colonel M. A. Krapivin, was responsible for carrying out this plan.

‘GVADAR' specified the following:

• [“] Through the KGB Residencies in Islamabad and Karachi and the Afghan special services, supply slanted information to Baluchi leaders about the Pakistani authorities' intention to legalize the presence of Afghan refugees on the territory of Baluchistan, giving them the right to erect permanent dwellings and to use the pasture lands to put out their animals to graze.

• Prompt some Baluchi groups to engage in armed clashes with Afghan armed detachments.

• Examine the expediency of making and maintaining contacts with representatives of the Baluchi emigration to Europe, in order to ascertain the situation within the Baluchi movement, exerting influence on it, and giving the impression that the USSR intends to give broad assistance to this movement.

• Consider the expediency and technical possibility of setting up a radio station in Afghanistan which, in the name of the Baluchis, would call on the population of Baluchistan to fight for the establishment of an autonomous state.

• Through the Afghans, carry out a series of leaflet operations designed to exacerbate relations between the population of Baluchistan and the Afghan refugees.

• Convey slanted information to Pakistani leaders about the US's intentions and specific actions to exploit the Baluchi problem to put pressure on the Zia-ul Haq government in order to secure the further use of Pakistan as a stronghold for organizing the undeclared war against Afghanistan.

• Carry out disinformation operations about the CIA's contacts with individual Baluchi leaders, including some who had emigrated, either directly or through political figures such as [probably Former Iranian Prime Minister Shapur] Bakhtiar and [Former Iranian General Gholam Ali] Oveisi [Oveissi]. For the sake of credibility, compile and send out letters ostensibly from Baluchis to the Pakistan Embassy in the US and some countries in Asia, containing threats against Zia-ul Haq and other military and state personalities in Pakistan. It would be clear from this that the Baluchi leaders are receiving support and financial assistance from the American authorities and special services in pursuit of the idea of establishing an independent Baluchistan.

• Convey slanted information to the Iranian leadership on the Americans' intentions and specific actions, including those of agents recruited by the Americans through SAVAK [the Iranian Intelligence Agency], designed to detach Iranian Baluchistan from Iran and, by arrangement with the Pakistani authorities, set up an autonomous united Baluchistan within Pakistan.

• Convey information to Pakistani diplomats in Colombo, citing the Libyan leadership, to the effect that the leaders of the Pakistani Baluchis have asked Libya for assistance in the struggle to set up an autonomous state, and that senior Libyan officials are studying the request. A Baluchi armed action against the central government of Pakistan can only be averted by democratization of the country's life and repatriation of the Afghan refugees in Baluchistan.

• Consider jointly with the Afghans how to incite the Baluchis to engage in antigovernment actions, and what assistance should be given.

• Convey information to [Palestinian Liberation Organization leader] Yasser Arafat and to the press of various countries to the effect that the US uses Pakistan to deflect the Muslim countries' anger at Israel's annexation of Jerusalem and to undermine their unity on this issue. If an emergency Conference of Islamic States were convened, the Americans have given Pakistan the task of again drawing the Conference's attention to the Afghan question, thereby wrecking the adoption of resolutions on Jerusalem that are unwelcome to the US and Israel.[”]

The Chukhrov Working Group also considered the question of creating a new irritant—the problem of setting up an Azad-Kashmir independent of Pakistan and India, and the notional formation of a Free Baluchistan government-in-exile in Afghanistan. But in view of the extreme complexity and uncertainty of many aspects of the situation, this question was postponed indefinitely.

Many other measures of this kind were devised and the conditions were created for strengthening and consolidating Pakistan's democratic forces. Work was in hand with representatives of the People's Party of Pakistan, of the Tekhrik-i-Istikhlal Party, of all factions of the Muslim League, of the Mussavat Party, the National Democracy Party, the Pakistan National Party and other national-patriotic forces in the country.

The possibilities of all KGB elements and Residencies, and of the KGBs of Kirgizia, Tajikistan, Turkmenia and Azerbaijan were mobilized to conduct Active Measures.


Many Active Measure pieces on various themes were placed in the periodical ‘NIVA,' published in Islamabad, which was controlled by the KGB Residency.

In 1980, 239 articles based on Service A themes were placed; in the first half of 1981, the total was 216 articles. When commenting on the situation in Afghanistan and on Pakistani-Afghan relations, the periodical occasionally slipped into anti-Soviet and anti-Afghan criticism. Issue No 10, quoting the press of the US, included Zia-ul Haq's statement that the USSR was seeking to break through to the Persian Gulf and to twist Pakistan's arm. Issue No. 46 reprinted a ‘Novai Vakt' article which criticized people who regard the Soviet Army as a friend and liberator, and scared them and all left-wingers with the idea that the Soviet Army would spare neither them nor their families.

In 1981, much of the material in the periodical dealt with the Conference of the Non-aligned Countries and the UN on Afghanistan.

In 1980, the KR line in Pakistan carried out 12 Active Measures, including some to compromise ‘LEO' and some involving the distribution of posters about the CIA. Use was made of a journey to Baluchistan by a US State Department official, the Consul in Karachi, and ‘LEO,' where they supposedly had meetings with pro-separatist political leaders of that province. It was from there that the Americans organized the struggle against revolutionary reforms in neighboring Iran, promising in return to help that province to achieve autonomy.

A brief item in a local newspaper reporting that a policeman had stopped the motorcar of a member of the American Embassy was transformed by Chekist scribes into an incident of smuggling by the Americans and confirmation of their link with Pushtunist separatists.

At that time also, a scheme was devised to carry out an Active Measure through the ‘loss' of a wallet belonging to a Secretary in the Political Section of the American Embassy. The wallet contained ‘documents' of an anti-Pakistan nature. It was supposedly ‘found' by a Pakistani in a public place and handed to a policeman. On 5 April 1980, the KGB-controlled ‘Patriot' newspaper in Delhi published an article under the heading: ‘The American cloak and dagger agency's war against Zia-ul Haq.' This mentioned the CIA's involvement in an anti-government officers plot.

On 4 April 1981, the same newspaper published an item headed ‘Mutiny in Pakistani units: 7 executed'. This described disorders in regular Pakistani forces stationed in Rawalpindi, Peshawar and Karachi barracks. Contrary to the expectations of Service A of the KGB FCD, no news agency apart from TASS reacted to this disinformation.

On 6 July 1981, a Soviet scholar and orientalist who was a KGB agent had a meeting with the Pakistani Chargé d'Affaires in the USSR. In a confidential conversation, he passed on the views of the competent agencies about the reaction of ruling and academic circles to the visit of Aga Shah, the Foreign Minister of Pakistan, to the US. Particular emphasis was given to the theme that the US assisted the Afghan rebels with arms sent through Pakistan; these arms were used not only to kill Afghans but also to kill Soviet citizens; the USSR would be forced, not to reduce, but instead to increase the scale of its military assistance. If Pakistan continued to act as an accomplice of American plans, particularly relating to the situation in Asia, the Soviet side would be unable to stand by idly in the face of such developments.The Charge defended the actions of his government, citing the impossibility of controlling the situation and activities in the Pushtun tribal areas.

"What are we to do?" asked the Chargé.

"I am not authorized and I cannot take decisions for the government of Pakistan, but I should like to draw attention to the matter so that you might give serious thought to the substance of our talk" the agent replied.

"But this is escalation of tensions`!" the Chargé exclaimed.

"But is handing over American weapons to the bandits in order to kill Soviet citizens not escalation? Pakistan is being turned into the main base of bandit formations and the channel for the supply of arms! And the Soviet Union is to stand by quietly and watch this happen?" the agent objected.

The chargé concluded: "This information is important. Although I am reluctant to do so, I am compelled to report it to Islamabad."

When giving false information about Soviet armed forces in Afghanistan to the Iranian leadership, the Cheka(3)
sought to convince the latter that if elements closely linked to the Americans came to power in Afghanistan, the Americans, in the course of their struggle with Khomeini, would actively use his own weapon - Islam - against him. He should therefore pay attention to the subversive activities of the real enemies of the new regime, namely the West and neighboring Arab countries.

In order to exacerbate Iranian-Pakistani relations and develop the Iranians' negative attitude towards Afghan emigration, use was made of information that, with the support and agreement of the local authorities, the CIA had set up special bases in Oman and in Pakistan to train armed formations and to send them into Iran to carry out counter-revolutionary and sabotage operations against the new regime. The training was conducted by CIA officers, former SAVAK agents and officers, and Afghan émigré organizations in Pakistan.

On 10 November 1980, an Iranian Parliamentary Deputy from the town of Zahedan [in southeastern Iran], made a speech in Parliament exposing the hostile activities of Pakistan, Oman and ‘other puppet states in the region' against the Islamic Republic of Iran. He referred to facts in his possession relating to ‘the secret involvement of statesmen from so-called friendly Pakistan' in subversive actions against the Islamic regime. The deputy used KGB briefing for his speech and emphasized the part played by Afghan emigration in subversive activities from the territory of He urged the Iranian government to take steps to put a stop to such activities and to define the status of the Afghans on Iranian soil, as they are used for political purposes by forces hostile to Iran.

An Active Measure, code-named ‘TOKSIK' [TOXIC], was designed to compromise Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan. It put forward the idea that the Afghan partisans' main problem was lack of funds. Therefore to balance their budget the refugees were extensively engaged in selling narcotics in the West.

In Bangladesh, in January-February 1980 alone, 56 items were planted on the Afghan theme; 12 editorials tending to justify the incursion of Soviet forces in Afghanistan were published. They pointed out that it was only in response to the undeclared war of imperialism against the 1979 Afghan Revolution that the USSR, bound by a friendship treaty with Afghanistan and responding to a request from its legitimate government, was compelled to take this step.

As these articles did not have the desired effect on public opinion and the majority condemned Soviet aggression, the Residency tried, through agents of influence in the parties, to turn the public's attention away from condemnation of the occupation of Afghanistan and towards exposure of the reactionary nature of US and Bangladesh policy, and the US interference in the affairs of Bangladesh. If this also had no effect, then in the light of the situation and of the public mood, the idea was put forward that condemnation of Soviet aggression in Afghanistan had to be balanced with simultaneous criticism of the schemes of American imperialism.

Through agents, covert action was taken in the Central Committee of the RKB, the SARKER wing of the CPB [Communist Party of Bangladesh] and the MOHI wing of the CPB to dampen anti-Soviet attitudes among party members and to turn their attention towards the activities of the US and the People's Republic of China in the northeastern states of India and China's intention to create a buffer state between India and China out of the Chittagong Hill District, Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur.

Another argument was deployed: the Americans seek to get young people to focus on the events in Afghanistan in order to distract them and student organizations from their dangerous schemes in Iran which are designed to crush the Iranian Revolution. Leaflets and appeals on this theme were sent out to public organizations in Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan. Articles were printed in ‘Gonokongh,' ‘Jonpod,' ‘Sansbad,' ‘Notun Bangla,' ‘Democrat.'

The following is one of the FCD Service A articles designed to be placed in the Bangladesh press:

"Despite their evident anti-Russian attitude, recently arrived refugees from Afghanistan say that the majority of the Afghan population is surprised by the correct behavior of the Soviet units, which in no way fits the conception of how the occupation forces of a foreign power must behave. The impression is that the Russians are determined to make use in Afghanistan of the experience which they gained in the 1920s, when the Soviet regime was being established in the Muslim republics of Central Asia.

The situation in Soviet Central Asia at that time reminds one of the situation which developed in Afghanistan after the April 1978 Revolution: trouble among the frontier tribes, fierce opposition from the large feudal landowners, strong clerical influence over the illiterate peasant masses, active support for the opposition forces from abroad (Iran, PRC) with the active involvement by Britain.

The Russians at times displayed extraordinary flexibility and the ability to combine military and political methods, indeed giving priority to the latter. The presence of Russian military units in Afghanistan has had little effect on daily life. As a rule, they are located in positions far from large centers of population and they do everything possible not to attract the attention of local inhabitants. Evidently, officers and soldiers are forbidden to take leave or go out of their deployment area, or to have any contacts with the Afghan population.

From the Afghan refugees, it has become known that, before being sent to Afghanistan, the Russians were specially instructed not to do anything which might offend the religious feelings of the Muslims or anything contrary to the traditions of various national groups living in the country. Notably, every Soviet serviceman has a special guidance note on the rules of behavior which are to be observed in Afghanistan. It is categorically forbidden to engage inany discussion about religion with the believers; it is recommended to recognize the rule observed by all Afghans on the performance of five daily prayers and not to disturb those at prayer. In the presence of Muslims, it is strictly not allowed to consume substances forbidden in the Koran, and so on. The refugees state that the commanders of Soviet units have been warned that they would be severely punished if the conduct of their subordinates gives rise to justified discontent among the local population or undesirable complications in relations with local inhabitants. On occasions when the Afghans are in contact with the Russians or have an opportunity to observe the life of Soviet troops in military garrisons, they are struck by the modest and undemanding mode of life, not only of the soldiers but also of the officers, their unruffled calm and their discipline."

In the framework of the ‘TORKHAM' operation in 1981- 1982, disinformation was regularly passed to the Iranian leadership about Pakistan's use of Afghan émigrés to pass arms to Baluchi and Arab separatists and to stir up mass disorders and anti-government incidents in the provinces of Khuzestan, Sistan and Baluchistan.

A leaflet in support of Afghanistan was disseminated, notionally by the organization of Iranian People's Wrestlers, calling for an end to Iran's and Pakistan's provocations against Afghanistan.

In the second half of May 1982, the ‘ZAKHAR' leaflet operation calling for the overthrow of Zia-ul Haq, was carried out in Pakistani Baluchistan. Through agents of the Afghan special agency SGI 990 leaflets were distributed. An SGI agent among the leaders of one of the Baluchi tribes got some of his trusted people to throw out the leaflets along the railway line to Zahedan, in the area between Quetta and the Iranian frontier, paying them in Iranian rials. The agent told those who were carrying out the task that he had been given the leaflets and the money by a ‘friend' of his who was the leader of one of the Baluchi tribes in Iranian Sistan, warning them not to say anything of this to their Afghan friends. Another SGI agent, the leader of a small Feda group codenamed ‘Mohammad Khano,' sent two of his trusted people to throw out leaflets in the Quetta-Sukkurt area. He gave Iranian rials for expenses and explained that he had taken this on ‘at the request of an Iranian, in the clear expectation of earning further reward.' In this way, the cover story for the operation was watertight, even if the executants were detained, as they in fact could not add anything to the fictitious information which they had been given.

In 1980, the following numbers of KGB agents were involved in work against
the Afghan emigration: in Pakistan - 8; in Bangladesh -6; in India -12; in Afghanistan -12.

In Britain the KGB was engaged in tracking down one of the leaders of the Pakistani emigration, and in France it was looking for a leader of the Baluchi emigration, with a view to making operational contact with him.

KGB Active Measures designed to impede the improvement of Pakistan- Indian relations contributed to the failure of the Pakistani leadership's attempts to improve relations with India and to reduce tension on the borders with India.

If this had been achieved, it would have enabled Pakistan to participate more freely in Afghan affairs and to carry out anti-Soviet actions on the international stage with regard to the USSR intervention in Afghan affairs. [Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad] Dost's visit to Delhi in February 1981 [for the 9- 13 February Conference of the Non- Alligned Movement] ended in failure; [Indian Foreign Minister P.V. Nara Simha] Rao's visit to Islamabad in June of the same year did not yield any results. It was important to convince Indian politicians that Pakistan's desire to improve relations with India was only a tactical maneuver, an attempt to gain time in order to rearm and exploit the expected destabilization process in India, and solve the Kashmir issue.

A document notionally entitled ‘The Haig Memorandum' was produced. Its main elements were as follows:

• [“] The US considers that Pakistan must be a bastion of the free world on the borders of Iran, the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan and the Indian Ocean, in order to block India's ambitious claims to the leading role in the Indian Ocean.

• The US is ready to help Pakistan to build its Navy (lending it 1 or 2 aircraft carriers), naval bases at Gwadar, and extend anchorages in Karachi harbor.

• The Reagan administration welcomes Zia-ul Haq's attempts to create the appearance of good will towards India, but there can be no illusion about the fact that while Iudiva Gandhi remains in power, Delhi is bound to follow the Soviet political line.

• Consequently, there must be no let-up in joint efforts in the Washington-Peking-Islamabad triangle to destabilize the Indian government.

• The US is prepared to consider Pakistan's request for the supply of AWACS [Airborne Warning and Control System] aircraft for use along the border with India, subject to the subsequent equitable sharing of the data acquired between the US, China and Pakistan.[“]

The KGB Residency in Delhi noted that, at the Conference of Foreign Ministers of the Non-aligned Movement in Delhi on 9-13 February 1981, the right wing of the Movement attempted to give the Conference an anti-Soviet slant, artificially whipping up the Afghan and Kampuchean issues. [“]An attempt was made to discredit the thesis that the countries of socialism are the natural allies of the Non-aligned Movement; a slogan proclaimed that the Non-aligned countries have no natural allies, but there are natural enemies – neo- colonization, racism, imperialism and hegemonism. Yugoslavia and North Korea sided with the right wing. The only truly combative progressive forces in the Non-aligned Movement were Cuba and Vietnam. The right wing managed to drag into the text of the Declaration a statement on the need to withdraw foreign forces from Afghanistan (admittedly, without referring to ‘Soviet' forces). Afghanistan, Angola, Ethiopia and the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen were ill-prepared and did not display a combative spirit.[”]

The KGB Resident in Delhi, Prokhorov,(4)
put forward proposals for Active Measures on his own initiative (in his telegram No 1669 of 5 May 1981). These led to the following sinister conclusion: in order to keep the Babrak Karmal regime in power in Afghanistan, a war between India and Pakistan would be advantageous for the Soviet Union, and they must be steered in that direction. The Department not only failed to rebuke its Resident for his levity, but instead asked Service A, Service 1, and the geographical departments of the KGB FCD and the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their views on the Resident's proposals.

Any initiative by an operational officer relating to Active Measures was encouraged. The Resident's approach to the subject was later reflected in requests sent out by the Center to its Residencies in Tehran and Islamabad. Service A asked for their views on the exacerbation of Iran-Pakistan relations. A telegram addressed to Shabrov in Tehran asked him to ‘state his views on existing irritants in Iran- Pakistan relations which could be worked on to lead to an acute worsening of relationbetween Iran and Pakistan, even to the extent of causing open hostilities against each other.' The telegram was signed by the Head of Department, Major-General M. K. Polonik. On 12 January 1982, a similar request addressed to Islamabad was signed by the Head of the 17th Department, Major-General Nikishchov (workname: Mishin). This invited suggestions ‘on sensitive points in relations between Pakistan and Iran which could be worked on to lead to an acute worsening of relations between them, even to the extent of causing open hostilities against each other, and which would contribute to achieving the aims of our Service in this region.'

Both telegrams were drafted by Aleksin, a Service A officer.

Through their agents, the KGB Residencies in Delhi and Colombo established channels for conveying FCD Service A information directly to highly-placed officials in India. In Delhi, a reliable agent (codenamed ‘VANO'), who was a journalist, passed information to the Prime Minister, I. Gandhi.

In September 1981, he was sent to Pakistan. Service A prepared themes on the Afghan issue for him, which he was to convey to representatives of the Pakistan administration, and, on his return, convey to the Indian leadership and publish in the Indian press. The Center allowed for the fact that the information might be amended and include some corrections in the light of the results of the agent's visit, but in any case it had to look like personal impressions and take account of the Indian leadership's loathing of the Pakistani administration, and of Zia-ul Haq in particular. In his published work, the agent was to stick to more careful and balancedformulations, in order not to rule out the possibility of visiting Pakistan again in the future.

On his return from Pakistan in October, the agent had a meeting with Gandhi and expounded to her the KGB themes on Afghanistan:

[“] From what the Pakistani leadership says, one can see that the presence of the so-called Afghan refugees is useful to the Zia-ul Haq administration, as it enables it to seek additional material and military assistance from the US, China, Saudi Arabia and certain other countries. However, the Afghan refugees are also a source of additional tension for Islamabad, as the indigenous inhabitants of Pakistan are certainly not indifferent to who uses their pasture lands, their water and their grain. In the view of some of the military, there will be continuing tension on the Pakistan- Afghan frontier until such time as Pakistan finally achieves the reorganization of its army and its complete rearmament. There are indications that as early as January 1982 the US will hand over to Islamabad the first batch of F-16 aircraft and patrol boats equipped with M-113 ‘Hawk' missiles. Thus one can suppose that the tempo and nature of rearmament are designed to speed up the militarization of the country and its conversion into an aggressive state, serving the interests of the US, China and reactionary Islamic regimes...[”]

In Colombo, an agent of the Residency among Sri Lankan journalists had access to the Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, T. Sri Abraham. He passed on to Abraham information supplied by Service A of the FCD, and the latter expressed unfailing interest in this. Thus, at a regular meeting on 10 January 1981, the agent passed on information on a US plan covering a 20-year period to establish its domination in the Indian Ocean to the detriment of India's interests. Abraham saidthat he would discuss this information with E. Gonsalvez, the Secretary of the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who was due to visit Sri Lanka on 12 January.

Conveying information in this manner is termed ‘the method of special positive influence.' It involves passing slanted information of various kinds and content, and disinformation, in conversations designed to influence governments, parties, individual political, public and state personalities, through agents, foreign confidential contacts, intelligence officers, and agents or cooptees of Soviet nationality. ‘Special positive influence' presupposes continuous work for the purpose, constant study of its results and of the reaction to the measures which are taken.

The KGB carried out Active Measures jointly with the Hungarians, who were in operational contact with a prominent Indian journalist in Vienna; they supplied him with KGB disinformation materials, which he published in the press under his own name.

Another agent of the Hungarians, codenamed ‘OTTO PALMA,' was used to convey slanted information to government circles of Western countries. Service A themes were sent to the Head of the Disinformation Department of Hungarian Intelligence, Josan, for action.

KGB Residencies in Pakistan, India and Iran were instructed to react to any press reports of gastric diseases and to inform the Center with a view to discrediting the US as part of a complex Active Measure codenamed ‘TARAKANY' [Cockroaches]. This was designed to discredit the American bacteriological laboratory attached to the Lahore medical centre and its personnel, and was a continuation of the operation to compromise the US and NATO over chemical and bacteriological weapons. In 1980-82, items appeared from time to time in the press of India, Iran, Bangladesh and Lebanon, alleging that preparations were in hand in Pakistan for bacteriological warfare and subversion against Afghanistan, Iran and India, with the involvement of American specialists. [“]Cases of intestinal diseases in humans in the area of Pishin, Surkhab, Muslimbagh and adjacent districts of Afghanistan, and of cattle plague and infectious diseases in Western districts of India (in the states of Punjab, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, and Rajasthan) were caused by the migration from Pakistan of people and animals infected by American specialists. Through the seasonal- and often encouraged - migration of cattle-raising tribes from Pakistan to Afghanistan, Iran and India, carriers of new types of mass infection could be infiltrated into these territories; this, according to the schemes of the Americans and Pakistanis, would promote anxiety, chaos and disorders in these countries.[”]

[“] In Iran, a rumor was spread that in Pakistan the Americans were using fellow Shiites as guinea pigs to study the effects of new chemical and bacteriological products on humans, as a result of which many either died or were crippled. The Pakistani regime's decision to allow the Americans to conduct such experiments on human subjects was evidence that the Pakistani leadership was conscious of the danger which the local Shiites represented, and therefore decided to rid itself of a potential internal enemy.[”]

[“] In these same countries, steps were taken to inspire applications to the World Health Organization, urging it to set up a commission to investigate the activities of American specialists who had turned Pakistan into a testing ground for experimentson human subjects and animals, using products which were part of the chemical and bacteriological arsenal.[”]

[“] In Kabul, there were press, radio and television references to the exploitation of Pakistan's territory to conduct dangerous experiments to develop methods of bacteriological warfare against Afghanistan, Iran and India.[”]

[“] In Dakha, a number of newspaper articles demanded an investigation into the true nature of experiments conducted by American specialists in the country, under the aegis of the International Center for the Study of Intestinal diseases and in cholera hospitals in Dakha and other cities. [”]

The KGB succeeded to mold public opinion against the American bacteriological services in these countries. The head of the bacteriological laboratory was expelled from Pakistan. The Indian government cancelled a joint Indo-American commission on healthcare and an Asian conference on intestinal diseases which were to take place in India.

The Karachi ‘Daily News' of 11 February 1982 printed a report from its Washington correspondent about the Pakistani authorities' expulsion of an American, Dr. David Nelin, the leader of a group of scientists from Maryland University attached to the Lahore medical center. Nelin stated that his expulsion was the result of intrigues by his Pakistani colleagues. The American said that his ill-wishers included Professor Aslam Khan and Brigadier M A Choudri. The KGB instigated the dispatch of protest letters to World Health Organization headquarters ostensibly from Pakistani medical scholars, and anti-American articles with fierce condemnations were planted in many countries.

In February 1982, the Soviet ‘Litterary Gazette' published an article by I. Andropov under the heading: ‘An incubator of death.' This replayed KGB disinformation materials about the Lahore research center.

‘Pravda' of 27 February 1982 reported that the Indian authorities had cancelled a meeting of the joint Indo-American commission on health care and the Asian conference on intestinal diseases. It linked this with facts about the activities of American specialists in Pakistan and Bangladesh who were studying the effects of new products and conducting experiments related to the development of biological weapons. According to the ‘Patriot' newspaper, the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs intended to hold an investigation into the activities of American scientists and doctors in India. The Bangladesh authorities were also thinking of examining what the so-called international research institutes, such as the one headed by Dr. Nelin in Lahore, were up to in the country. (Note: ‘Patriot', a weekly journal, was controlled by the KGB Residency in Delhi.)

The Pakistani newspaper ‘Dawn' of 23 February 1982 reported a meeting between representatives of the US's National Health Institute, Paul Ahmed and Douglas William, and Pakistan's Minister of Health, Dr. Nasiruddin Jogezai.

This led to the production of the following press release:

“In connection with the expulsion from Pakistan of Dr D. Nelin for conducting dangerous experiments on the spread of infectious diseases, an American medical delegation has gone urgently to Islamabad in order to hush up the scandal which has blown up unexpectedly over the Lahore medical research center and to put pressure on Pakistan not to disclose what researches are carried out by the Center. The American delegation is headed by Paul Ahmed and Douglas William. The sudden appearance in Pakistan of a group of American medical specialists provides confirmation that Washington fears that their dangerous experiments with new biological components of weapons of mass destruction will be exposed, and it confirms the conclusion that Pakistan intends to allow the Americans to continue their dangerous experiments, in view of the probable use of the new weapons against India, Iran and Afghanistan.”

In May 1982 reports date-lined Islamabad appeared in the Indian press about the
deployment of American chemical and bacteriological weapons in Pakistan.

"According to information obtained from local military sources, chemical reagents have recently been brought to Pakistan from American chemical weapon arsenals located on Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Ocean and in Japan; these are to be stored in areas close to Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Quetta and Peshawar. As for the characteristics of these reagents, according to the sources they are similar to those used previously by the Americans during the Vietnam war. According to the same sources, the build-up of US chemical and bacteriological stocks in Pakistan is designed for potential use by American rapid deployment forces in the broad region of South and South-west Asia.

An understanding between Washington and Islamabad on the production of chemical and bacteriological weapons on the territory of Pakistan was reached as far back as August 1980, when the agreement on the activities of the American bacteriological service in Pakistan was officially extended. Item 2 of Article 5 of that agreement in particular gives the Americans the right, through the US's International Development Agency (USAID), to review the results of the work periodically and to put forward proposals for its modification. In practice, this means that the Americans exercise complete control over all aspects of research in Pakistan on the development of new types of chemical, bacteriological and biological weapons. This formulation gives the US the possibility of determining unilaterally that it is essential to stock up and use chemical reagents on Pakistan territory. Clear confirmation of this can be found in the widely known facts relating to the activities of the Lahore Medical Centre, where American specialists were engaged in developing new forms of bacteriological and chemical weapons."

Published items of this kind were picked up by TASS and reprinted in the Soviet press; the press cuttings were filed with the original disinformation material. To some extent they eclipsed reports in the Western press about the Soviet Army's use of chemical weapons against the Afghan people. The Soviet propaganda services denied such reports, attributed their publication to American pressure on the Western press, and blamed the Americans for the use of chemical weapons in Afghanistan.

The KGB Resident in Pakistan, Akim, was awarded a testimonial by KGB Chairman Yuri Andropov for the ‘TARAKANY' Active Measure.

The Active Measures work of the KGB Colombo Residency in 1977-81, and that of the Resident, Grinevich, himself won a positive assessment: the Resident made skilful use of intelligence means and methods, the whole operational staff of the Residency was involved, and the output of agents was substantial. The ‘Lanka Guardian' and ‘Tribune,' periodicals controlled by the Residency, won high praise.

In 1980, the KGB leadership was told of 13 Active Measures carried out by the Residency. A complex operation to strengthen the international standing of thegovernment of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan [DRA] and to develop a positive attitude to the work of Karmal within the Sri Lankan government and public won approval. The operations helped to moderate criticism of the USSR by Sri Lankan representatives and by the press with regard to the incursion of Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

In 1980, 5,000 leaflets were disseminated in Colombo in the name of a fictitious organization, the ‘Union of Muslim Youth,' in support of the Karmal government and condemning the actions of the US and the PRC against the DRA. The same aim was pursued through meetings, seminars, resolutions and conversations of influence.

Through the possibilities of the ‘Sutra' Agency, a session of the Sri Lankan National Center of the Asian Buddhist Peace Congress (ABPC) was arranged to condemn the policy of China and Pakistan, and to press for a nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

Arrangements were made for sending letters of protest to the PRC Embassy, for an operation codenamed ‘OMICRON' against the Chinese in Sri Lanka, for leaflets exacerbating the schism between Albania and China, for anti-American posters, and appeals in favor of establishing a zone of peace in the Indian Ocean.

With the help of agents, a Sri Lanka-Afghanistan Solidarity Committee was set up: this was used to organize mass meetings in towns to condemn interference by the US, the PRC and Pakistan in the affairs of the DRA, and to support the revolutionary reforms in that country. It also organized letters of protest to President Zia-ul Haq and to the Pakistan government's daily newspaper ‘Dawn.' The letters condemned the CIA's activities in Pakistan and interference by the US and China in the affairs of Afghanistan.

[“]In Colombo and Kandy, seminars were held to criticize interference by imperialist forces in Afghanistan; many slanted conversations were held in the entourage of President J.R. Jayewardene and Prime Minister Ranasinha Premadasa, in leading circles of the ruling Party and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the criminal activities of mercenary groups sent into Afghanistan from neighboring countries. Conversations of influence were held among political, state and public figures in Sri Lanka with the aim of influencing the position of Jayewardene towards Afghanistan and the surrounding area. Through agents, influence was exerted on trade union and religious organisations to induce them to adopt resolutions and declarations expressing support for the USSR's policy in Afghanistan. Favourable articles on the Afghan issue, based on briefing from Service A of the KGB FCD, were printed in the ‘Tribune', the ‘Lanka Guardian' and the bulletin of the Sri Lankan Centre of the Asian Buddhist Peace Congress.[”]

In June 1980, the following disinformation was conveyed to Pakistani diplomats in Colombo:

[“]In the view of French diplomats, Zia-ul Haq's policy towards Afghanistan amounts top laying dangerously with fire. Further delay in establishing direct contacts with the new regime in Kabul will have tragic consequences in Islamabad. India views Zia-ul Haq's policy of playing a leading role in the Muslim world with suspicion, and will not put obstacles to a change of regime in Pakistan. The US no longer believes in the durability of the government and seeks to establish undeclared contacts with the opposition.[”]

[“]At the same time, it was suggested to Pakistanis in Delhi that there was a real possibility of normalizing relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan on the so-called Durand line frontier, and that by delaying normalization Pakistan was missing a favorable opportunity.[”]

[“]Taken together, this all moderated the negative attitude of Sri Lankan representatives and the press towards the actions of the USSR and of its forces in Afghanistan; it helped to raise the interest of government and political circles in the country towards Soviet proposals for settling the situation in Afghanistan and the South-west region of Asia.[”]


1 Editor's Note: Baluchi, also spelled Balochi or Beluchi, group of tribes speaking the Baluchi language and estimated at about 4,800,000 inhabitants in the province of Baluchistan in Pakistan and also neighboring areas of Iran, Afghanistan, Bahrain, and Punjab (India). See “Balochi,” Encyclopædia Britannica (2004),

2 Pushtun, or Pakhtun, Hindustani Pathan, Persian Afghan Pashto-speaking people of southeastern Afghanistan and northwestern Pakistan. See “Pushtun,” Encyclopædia Britannica (2004),

3 Name of early Soviet secret police agency and a forerunner of the KGB.

4 Prokhorov was the work name of Gennadiy Afanasyevich Vaumin, the Resident in Delhi, later head of the 17th Department of the FCD, with the rank of Major-General.

Materials provided by former KGB archivist Vasili Mitrokhin to CWIHP, following the publication of the Working Paper No. 40, "The KGB in Afghanistan." As with all Mitrokhin’s notes, his compilation on Soviet “active measures” in South and Southwest Asia is based on other smuggled-out notes and was prepared especially for CWIHP. Please read the Notes on Sources for information on the nature and limitations of these documents.


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Contributed to CWIHP by Vasili Mitrokhin and first published in CWIHP Bulletin 14/15.


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