Amar Bhushan: Terror in Islamabad, The Zero Cost Mission, The Wily Agent


Terror in Islamabad, The Zero Cost Mission, and The Wiley Agent by Amar Bhushan are three small books that are fiction inspired by real-life stories. While reading, I wondered what is fiction and what is not, most of it sounds too real. The stories are based in two neighboring countries that were part of India till sometime back. The spy stories between them make for curious reading.

Terror in Islamabad by Amar Bhushan

Terror in Islamabad is something that we take for granted, nothing that surprises us in India. So, what new things would this book tell us was my reason to pick up this book. I must admit that I picked it up because it was a quick small read when I wanted to read something entertaining in between my heavy reads. The book did turn out to be a page-turner.

Terror in Islamabad by Amar BhushanThe character of the protagonist Amit Munshi is very well etched out. You almost see him moving around his house and his office. How he managed to do his covert operations remains a mystery though.

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The highlight of the story though is the brutal treatment that he gets when he is picked up by the ISI a day before he was to leave for India. The few hours that he spends in their interrogation center can easily send a chill down your spine. If you are an Indian, you see no reason to not trust what is being told in the story.   It’s gory, it’s disgusting and it makes you realize the amount of hate we carry in our hearts. You also get glimpses of how the diplomacy circles work.

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The author has brought in the angle of Shakti worship and astrology in the story through the protagonist. He reads the charts of people to help them with their future. He is an ardent Shakti worshipper who literally takes his instructions from the deity who talks to him in his own language. I quite liked this strand of the story as there is no better support than one’s own firm faith. This is especially true when you are living in the enemy territory and working against them.

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The end could have been better but I guess it comes from real-life incidents too. Most officers once they have done their job are left to fend for themselves unless they can be of use again.

The Zero Cost Mission by Amar Bhushan

The Zero Cost Mission and The Wiley Agent are based on two different Bangladesh Operations. The Zero Cost Mission is a case where there are no funds sanctioned to do the operation. The operator thinks innovatively and gets it funded in a way that it costs nothing to the agency. One wonders if this is how people fund operations against their own country and people. I assume it happens, it’s just that we as average citizens do not know about it.

It introduces you to an agent who can go to any extent to complete his mission, with or without support

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The Wily Agent by Amar Bhushan

The Wily Agent highlights the nature of the relationship operators share with their sources. There is strange chemistry that they share, they rarely trust each other, yet their professional life is tied to each other. They play games with each other, with their respective bosses, take fake names, meet in obscure places, communicate in codes but they also take care when needed. These games are the major plot in this book.

The last two books are published together as one, opening from opposite ends.

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The author focuses a lot more on the bureaucratic mazes and internal politics that it seems is more difficult for operators to handle than their sources. The constant need for funds, of cultivating sources that your bosses do not necessarily approve of, and the general apathy of the system is a highlight of all his books. As a reader, I want more of what is going on in the mind of the agent and his opponents than what files are moving or who is backbiting whom. Guess, that is the dose of reality that agents have to live with and we must know about.

Read it to know what invisible forces of nations do, whose work remains away from the public eye most of the time.

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