Ashraf Khan is an agent with Department 8.
In the heddy days of World War II, various departments of the British military intelligence community existed, each with its designated purpose though jurisdiction often overlapped, sometimes unintentionally and sometimes with avarice. There were nine such departments at its peak, cleverly designated MI-1 through MI-9. Most went away or were absorbed by others until there were just two: MI-5 involved in internal security and MI-6 responsible for external operations.
And MI-8, known once as Special Operations but now largely unknown to the general public. Its existence owed itself to the fact that often a special situation arises which involved operations both inside the country and out. Since the turf war between MI-5 and MI-6 was never ending and neither would be willing to play second chair to the other, it fell to MI-8 to handle things when needed.
MI-8 was small, scrappy, hungry for any piece of the intelligence budget it could snatch from the jaws of the bigger siblings, and run by a man perhaps a genius or perhaps a nutcase. The odds are the former because he has kept the bureau going for some time and has been smart enough to maintain a good relationship with the Americans.
Back to Khan. His parents were from the Indian state of Gujarat, next to the border with Pakistan. "He grew up speaking Gujarati to his mother, Hindi to his father, Urdu in the mosque, and English everywhere else." This made languages especially easy for him so he achieved honors in school for French, German, and Spanish. At University, he added Arabic and Hebrew and tossed in Farsi.
Khan knew getting a job at the time he graduated was going to be difficult. His biggest asset was his language skills though his black belt in aikido showed he did not lack in conditioning. When the head of Department 8 called with an offer, the opportunity was welcomed and suddenly he was an agent.