A RAW Deal For ISI Chief

Well, it seems that Mohammad Asad Durrani could not believe it, initially! Is it possible for the chiefs of RAW and ISI to pen a book together – (that too) on events which had led to perhaps the gravest of tension between India and Pakistan? By no means, he was sure whether the contents of that book would be acceptable to the readers!
Lieutenant General (Retired) Durrani – the Three-Star rank general in the Pakistani Army and former Chief of the South Asian country’s premier intelligence agency ‘Inter-Services Intelligence’ (ISI) – was surprised when he received such a proposal from senior Indian journalist Aditya Sinha. Finally, the book was written and published on May 24, 2018. However, the former Pak spy had little idea that more surprises were waiting for him.
The book – titled ‘The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace’ – is co-authored by Lieutenant General (Retired) Durrani, Amarjit Singh Dulat – the former Chief of Research and Analysis Wing (RAW – the foreign intelligence agency of India) and journalist Sinha. After the publication of the book, the former ISI chief faced bitter reactions in Pakistan, as his countrymen condemned his decision to co-author the book with former chief of the Indian intelligence agency. The Pakistani Army has accused Durrani of violating its ‘Code of Conduct’. In a statement, the Army said that the former ISI chief made a mistake by commenting on sensitive bilateral issues and also by sharing ‘similar’ views on different issues with the former RAW chief.

The Pak Army reportedly summoned Lieutenant General (Retired) Durrani over the publication of the ‘controversial’ book earlier this week. Army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor, meanwhile, informed the media that Durani was asked to explain his position on various issues mentioned in ‘Spy Chronicles’. According to the spokesperson, the former ISI chief told the Army that the book was a brainchild of the Indian journalist, as he had requested both Durrani and Dulat to co-author ‘Spy Chronicles’ with him. Although Durrani was in a dilemma, he accepted the proposal later. Major General Ghafoor stressed that Durrani, Dulat and Sinha sat together a number of times in Istanbul, Bangkok and Kathmandu to discuss various issues, including Kashmir, Hafiz Saeed, Kulbhushan Jadhav, Osama bin Laden, even 26/11 terror attack in Mumbai, the roles of Russia and the US in normalising Indo-Pak ties and the impact of terrorism on the bilateral peace process. It is to be noted that all the issues are very sensitive, and Durrani and Dulat have reached a consensus on many of them.

Lieutenant General (Retired) Durrani

Durrani’s views on how the US Navy Seals eliminated al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden through an operation in Abbottabad are quite significant. In ‘Spy Chronicles’, he revealed that the ISI – which was well aware of the fact that bin Laden had taken shelter in Pakistan – helped the American forces trace the mastermind of 9/11 on the basis of a deal struck by Islamabad and Washington. He further claimed that the then Pak Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani was also aware of the US Navy Seals operation. Durrani’s Indian counterpart Dulat, too, stressed that RAW had the same information. However, the former ISI boss did not disclose the exact nature of the deal, saying that it was his ‘assumption’!
The discussion about Kulbhushan Jadhav – an Indian national who was arrested in the Pakistani province of Balochistan on charges of terrorism and spying for RAW – between Durrani, Dulat and Sinha is also quite sensational. The ‘Khaleej Times‘ daily has published a part of the discussion mentioned in the ‘Spy Chronicles’. During the discussion, the former ISI chief said that Pakistan was in trouble after the terror attack on the Pathankot airfield in India on January 2, 2016. So, according to Lieutenant General (Retired) Durrani, Islamabad badly needed a scapegoat. When Daulat asked why Pakistan was in trouble, Durrani replied that India was trying to establish the direct involvement of the Pak Army in the Pathankot attack. That’s why Islamabad wanted to prove that New Delhi, too, was involved in similar activities in Pakistan, explained the former ISI chief.

Amarjit Singh Dulat

Again, Durrani’s ‘controversial’ comments on the sensitive issues have irked the Pak Army. The ‘powerful’ Army has rubbished the former ISI chief’s claims, saying that his comments are baseless and contrary to the reality. Even the top political leadership in Islamabad has slammed Durrani for making such comments. Speaking at a media conference in Lahore a couple of days ago, former Pak Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said: “Lieutenant General (Retired) Durrani penned down the book, but former President General (Retired) Pervez Musharraf and former Chief of General Staff (CGS) Shahid Aziz have given statements as well. A National Inquiry Commission should be formed after an advisory meeting to go into depth of the issue.

Journalist Aditya Sinha

Raza Rabbani, a veteran Pakistani politician who served as the 7th Chairman of the Senate from March 2015 to March 2018, is of the opinion that had a common person written such a book, s/he should have been treated as a ‘traitor’.
Meanwhile, the entire episode has shocked Lieutenant General (Retired) Durrani. “I am saddened by the allegations made on me by my own people. I have served Pakistan all along, putting my life at risk. People, who live life for others selflessly, never get respect they deserve and instead those, who do all wrongs for their own benefits, are treated like King,” he said.

Release of the book in India

The book was released on May 23 in India in the presence of galaxy of famous individuals, including former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. However, the former ISI chief could not attend the event, as he wasn’t granted a visa to be present for the book launch. The concerned authorities in Pakistan have placed him on the ‘Exit Control List’ or the ‘No-Fly List’.

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