Ex-Spymaster Durrani Could Face”Conduct Unbecoming” Charges, Barred From Leaving Country

Durrani apparently failed to give a satisfactory reply, which led the army to constitute a Court of Inquiry to be headed by a three-star general to probe the ex-spymaster’s actions

May 29, 2018 (DESPARDES/PKONWEB) — The Pakistan Army on Monday set up a ‘court of inquiry’ to probe former director general ISI retired Lt Gen Asad Durrani’s collaboration with former Indian spy agency RAW chief A.S. Dulat, on a book recently published in India that has stirred heated controversy. The army has also asked the government to impose travel ban on 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.

Mr Durrani had earlier been called to the General Headquarters to clarify his involvement in the book project and the assertions that he has made in the paperback. The book The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI, and the Illusion of Peace”, contains conversations between Mr Durrani and Mr Dulat that were mediated by an Indian journalist who later authored the book — “making the paperback available on book-stands in India and its soft copy available on the internet for free could be a well-timed sinister design,” several observers felt.

“Pakistan has just completed its second stint of democratic setup — part of project democracy launched a decade back and a high-wired elections this time are weeks ahead, and amid ongoing hybrid war — with so much on plate, the publisher has pushed the book across the border and the web. That’s a red herring,” said one analyst.

The military is said to be taking the ex-spymaster’s book collaboration as a potential case of violation of ‘Military Code of Conduct’, which 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.

Analysts 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.

Durrani apparently also failed to give a satisfactory reply, which led the army to constitute a Court of Inquiry to be headed by a three-star general to probe the ex-spy chief’s actions, The Express Tribune reported.

Military sources told ET that the GHQ had serious reservations over some of the comments made in the book, terming them “baseless” and “contrary to facts”.

Durrani made certain observations including a claim that then prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani was fully onboard regarding the US Navy Seals operation against Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad and that a special deal was struck between the US and Pakistani governments in this regard.

He also went on to suggest that Pakistan mishandled the case of convicted Indian spy Kulbhushan Jhadav, claiming that he would eventually be handed over to India.

The book triggered a debate in the country with many questioning how a former spymaster could co-author a book with a RAW chief on such sensitive issues. Pakistan and India relations are at an all-time low. According to one politico, “Durrani’s inclination towards IJI or PML-N or the right-wingers is a known fact.”

Durrani contends that people-to-people contacts is one of the low-hanging fruits both sides can exploit to enable shifting the focus toward peace rather than posturing for war, the politico added.

But not many agree with the ex-spy chief’s “wishful thinking” — one analyst said. “We face full spectrum threats not just conventional. Rules of the game are not just the same. Can’t throw caution to the wind.”

The former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani on Friday said that if a politician or a civilian had agreed to co-author a book with an Indian, they would have been charged with treason.

Three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who himself is in the eye of a storm after his controversial statement on the Mumbai attacks, demanded that a National Security Committee meeting be convened to discuss the disclosures made by the former ISI chief in the book.

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, 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 such courts usually worked on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, Durrani’s name has been placed on the Exit Control List (ECL), sources within the interior ministry informed Geo News.

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