ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army on Monday set up a ‘court of inquiry’ to investigate former director general of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) retired Lt Gen Asad Durrani’s collaboration with A.S. Dulat, former chief of Indian spy agency RAW (Research and Analysis Wing), in what is being seen as a lightning-rod book project that has stirred heated controversy, and asked the government to impose travel ban on him (Gen Durrani).

“A formal court of inquiry headed by a serving lieutenant general has been ordered to probe the matter in detail. Competent authority has been approached to place the name of Lieutenant General Asad Durrani (retd) on Exit Control List (ECL),” ISPR Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor tweeted.

Asks govt to place Durrani’s name on exit control list

Mr Durrani had earlier been “called to” the General Headquarters to provide his personal clarification over his involvement in the book project and the assertions that he has made in the book. The book The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI, and the Illusion of Peace was last week launched in India. It contains conversations between Mr Durrani and Mr Dulat that were mediated by an Indian journalist.

Also read: The former ISI chief should be willing to justify what he has written

The two former spies have in the book touched upon some of thorny issues that have kept Pakistan-India ties strained for decades and at times pushed them to the brink of war. These issues include terrorism, particularly the Mumbai attacks, Kashmir, spy wars and the influence of defence bureaucracies and spy agencies in the two countries.

The military is taking it as a potential case of violation of ‘Military Code of Conduct’, which it says is applicable to all serving and retired military personnel. Section 55 of the Military Law, which relates to “conduct unbecoming of an officer” is considered to have a very wide scope.

The court of inquiry would look into the book and determine if its content and Mr Durrani’s involvement with the book was culpable and then based on its findings it would make recommendations to the army chief on how to proceed further with the matter.

In the worst-case scenario, former military officers fear, court martial proceedings could be initiated against him. If the army chief determines that there is sufficient ground to start court martial, then the process would begin with the recording of the summary of evidence.

“It is the first stage in the process in which the court would examine the available evidence and find if some wrong has been committed,” a retired military officer explained, adding it was more of an official inquiry.

Although no time frame has been provided for the court, but another retired officer said such courts usually worked on a daily basis.

The book contains several controversial statements attributed to Mr Durrani, including those on the independence enjoyed by ISI in its decision making, the 2011 US Special Forces Operation in which terror kingpin and Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden was eliminated, the possible eventual outcome of spy Kulbhushan Jadhav’s case and probably the way the Kashmir movement was planned to be controlled, but many believe that he did not spill any classified secrets.

Defence analysts, however, say he could be at fault for not getting prior permission for the book and then not getting his part vetted and cleared by the army, which is the usual procedure.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2018

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