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Home NEWS Asad Durrani | The spymaster who touched a ‘raw’ nerve

Asad Durrani | The spymaster who touched a ‘raw’ nerve

Pakistan’s Defence Ministry says the previous ISI chief has been ‘affiliated’ with hostile parts, together with India’s intelligence company

The first and solely encounter this reporter had with Mohammad Asad Durrani, a former chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate, presently going through the ire of his personal Army institution, was on the sprawling residence of an Indian diplomat in Islamabad. Lt. Gen Durrani (retd), who served because the ISI chief in 1990-92, had returned from a stint because the nation’s Ambassador to Germany (1994-97). At the reception, the previous spymaster appeared reluctant to speak. In 2000, Gen. Pervez Musharraf despatched him as Pakistan’s Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, presumably considered one of 4 key assignments for Rawalpindi/Islamabad. In brief, Gen. Durrani was a pillar of the Pakistani institution.

For Indians, Gen. Durrani has been within the information as a result of he co-authored together with A.S. Dulat a former Research & Analysis Wing (R&AW) chief, and journalist Aditya Sinha a guide, Spy Chronicles – RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace in 2018. But it landed him in bother in Pakistan.

On May 28, 2018, the Pakistani Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Directorate introduced on Twitter: “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.”

The ECL, or the Exit Control List, was a checklist of individuals prohibited from leaving the nation that’s normally reserved for out-of-favour politicians, criminals and different sundry offenders.

Born in Rawalpindi on February 7, 1941, Gen. Durrani joined the Pakistani Army in 1959. According to a brief biography on the ISI web site, “during his 34 years with the Army, he served in a number of command, staff and instructional appointments”, and took half within the Indo-Pakistan wars of 1965 and 1971. Besides heading the ISI, Gen. Durrani, a graduate from the General Staff Academy, Germany, had held posts similar to Director General of Military Intelligence; Inspector General, Training and Evaluation at General Headquarters (GHQ); and Commandant, National Defense College. He retired in May 1993.

On January 27, Pakistan’s Defence Ministry knowledgeable the Islamabad High Court that Gen. Durrani had been “affiliated/interacting with hostile elements, especially the Indian RAW, since 2008”, in response to a petition filed by the previous ISI chief, difficult the choice to put him on the ECL. The Defence Ministry submitted earlier than the High Court that The Spy Chronicles contained “certain contents [sic] concerning [the] national security of Pakistan, being in contravention of the provisions of the Official Secrets Acts, 1923”.

“It is further highlighted that there are [a] number of such publications on the way, supported by hostile elements which contain content to create misperception, confusions, [sic] question marks against the top leadership circles at country level and to target the common people,” the Defence Ministry acknowledged.

So, what was earlier an innuendo is now out within the open. It’s clear that the Pakistani institution can’t tolerate the “collaboration” of even retired spymasters on guide initiatives. Both Gen. Durrani and Mr. Dulat are skilled practitioners of the sport — a lot too embedded within the narrative of their very own State to present something away even to promote their guide.

The Defence Ministry, in its reply, has additionally given away a key cause about why Gen. Durrani was positioned on the ECL: the previous spymaster was elevating questions concerning the “top leadership” of the nation. That’s presumably the nub of the problem — that Gen. Durrani has rubbed some essential individuals in Pakistan the mistaken approach.

Osama bin Laden raid

In a December 2020 interview to BBC Urdu, Gen. Durrani candidly admitted that the Pakistani Army does intrude in politics — one thing that’s well-known however not often admitted in public by even retired pillars of the Pakistani institution. Pointing to the general public notion concerning the Army’s interference in home politics, Gen. Durrani stated: “Even if they [the Army] are not there, it appears that they play a role.” Raising questions concerning the present management of the nation, he stated their credibility was in query — they have an inclination to return on every part. “I have touched a raw nerve,” he stated, tongue firmly in cheek.

Gen. Durrani added that many retired officers had written books with out permission, however it was he who had been focused by the Army institution.

He can also be conscious that he ruffled many feathers when he advised Al Jazeera in 2015 that it was extra in all probability that the ISI knew about Osama Bin Laden’s presence in Abbotabad. “I cannot say exactly what happened but… it is quite possible that they [the ISI] did not know but it was more probable that they did.” Gen. Durrani additionally acknowledged within the interview that Bin Laden was handed over to the Americans in change for an settlement on “how to bring the Afghan problem to an end”. Bin Laden was killed in a May 2011 operation in Abbotabad by American particular forces performing on their very own.

On whether or not Bin Laden’s hideout in Abbotabad was an ISI protected home, Gen. Durrani responded: “If the ISI was doing that, then I would say they were doing a good job. And if they revealed his location, they again probably did what was required to be done.”

It will likely be fascinating to see how the Islamabad High Court will rule on Gen. Durrani’s request to get himself off the ECL, however the reality is that he’s clearly out of favour with the present institution and Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa. Any observer of the Pakistani scene will likely be conscious that the Army has a mysterious approach of managing court docket verdicts with out seeming to have executed so. The Court’s ruling will likely be intently watched.

Violence in Kashmir

From an Indian perspective, Gen. Durrani was the ISI chief on the time when Pakistan unleashed one of many worst mayhems attainable in Jammu & Kashmir — kidnappings and killings had been rampant and a entire array of terrorist outfits had been created and fostered by the ISI. It can also be true that his co-author of The Spy Chronicles, A.S. Dulat, was within the Indian Intelligence Bureau at a time when the IB was making an attempt to blunt the militancy that was being exported to India by the ISI in Jammu & Kashmir.

The reality is that the Pakistani institution has a skinny pores and skin on the subject of statements that deviate from the “line” to be taken on tv speak reveals and newspaper articles.

Track two dialogues serve the aim of bringing foes to the identical desk. Even behind closed doorways, this kind of dialogue generates a lot noise and disagreement between Indians and Pakistanis and is commonly moderated by Americans or Europeans.

Still, it’s a assembly level to at the least hear the opposite perspective instantly. It turns into all of the extra necessary at a time when the final time an Indian Prime Minister met his Pakistani counterpart was greater than 5 years in the past — when Narendra Modi arrived nearly unannounced — at Nawaz Sharif’s large Raiwind residence on Christmas Day in 2015.

Retired spies could also be collaborating, however their governments are usually not.

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