‘Spy Chronicles’ land ex-ISI chief Asad Durrani in hot water

  • Pakistan Army places former spy chief on no-fly list, orders Court of Inquiry headed by serving lieutenant general

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army on Monday ordered a Court of Inquiry against former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt General (r) Asad Durrani and recommended placing his name on the Exit Control List (ECL) after his candid views on various matters of regional and global concern in a book, that he co-authored with former India’s Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) chief Amarjit Singh Dulat, came under intense public scrutiny in Pakistan.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a statement said that the Court of Inquiry will be headed by a serving lieutenant general had been ordered to probe the matter in detail. It added that the “competent authority” has been approached to put Durrani’s name on the Exit Control List (ECL). The Ministry of Interior confirmed receiving the request from the General Headquarters later in the evening.

Earlier in the day, the former spy chief arrived at the Pakistan Army’s General Headquarters (GHQ) after being summoned to explain his position under the light of the military’s code of conduct as the “book states many facts that do not reflect the reality and might be considered as a violation of the code of conduct”.

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Asif Ghafoor tweeted:

“Lt Gen Asad Durrani, Retired was called at GHQ today to explain his position on recently launched book ‘Spy Chronicles’. A formal Court of Inquiry headed by a serving Lt Gen has been ordered to probe the matter in detail. Competent authority approached to place his name on ECL.”

On Friday, Pakistan Army had expressed its reservations on Asad Durrani’s book “The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace”.

The ISPR DG tweeted about the summons on Friday.

“Lt Gen Asad Durrani, Retired being called in GHQ on 28th May 18. Will be asked to explain his position on views attributed to him in book ‘Spy Chronicles’. Attribution taken as violation of Military Code of Conduct applicable on all serving and retired military personnel,” Maj Gen Ghafoor posted.

So far, no details have been shared about which statements attributed to Durrani in the book are considered a violation of the code of conduct.

The book is mainly a series of discussions conducted between the two former adversaries on a range of topics, moderated by Indian journalist Aditya Sinha.

The paperback has served as an ice-breaker of sorts between the two warring neighbours while also spurring criticism of Indian state repression in held Kashmir.

The two former spies have in the book touched upon some thorny issues which have kept Pakistan-India ties strained for decades and at times pushing them to the brink of war. The issues include terrorism — particularly the Mumbai attack — Kashmir and the influence of intelligence agencies.

Earlier, Durrani had said that the book was Dulat’s idea but at no time was it considered as an occasion to spill any secrets.

It is worth noting that this is not the first time instance of Durrani co-authoring something with Dulat.

In 2013, the two published a joint paper on Pakistan-India relations in the context of Kashmir titled Kashmir: Confrontation to Cooperation.

Durrani notes in The Spy Chronicles that the paper had not received any adverse reaction from the military establishment, even though it also dealt with some contentious themes.

However, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had drawn a parallel between his own recent statement on the Mumbai attack case and the contents of the book. He had also called for the National Security Council (NSC) to re-convene on the matter as it had in his [Sharif’s] case.

Nawaz believes that the former DG ISI, through this book, has made public some “serious information” and that it was necessary to call an emergency NSC meeting to discuss the matter.

In a similar vein, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Senator Raza Rabbani, while addressing the Upper House last week, had remarked that if a politician had teamed up with an Indian counterpart to write a book like this, they would have been branded a traitor.

“It is shocking that on one hand Pakistan and India relations are at an all-time low and on the other hand, former spy chiefs of both the countries are teaming up to write a book,” the former Senate chairman was quoted as saying.