The Imran Khan government has opposed the lifting the ban on the former chief of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Lt Gen (retd) Asad Durrani on flying out of the country as he faces charges of being involved in ‘anti-state activities’ and in being in ‘touch with India’s Research and Analysis Wing.’
According to Dawn, Pakistan’s premier English Newspaper, the Military Intelligence opposed Durani’s petition challenging a Defence Ministry order placing his name in the Exit Control List (ECL) in the Islamabad High Court.
The ECL is meant for restraining the escape of Pakistani who are involved in 'acts of terrorism or its conspiracy', 'heinous crimes' and 'threatening national security’. In most other countries such laws are implemented by the civilian agencies. However, in Pakistan, the Military and indirectly the ISI administeres it.
Besides, it happens to be the most misused law of the land.
Durani had earned the wrath of the Pakistani’s Military for co-authoring a book, titled The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace, with A S Dulat, the former chief of the RAW, in 2018.
The MI told the court that Durrani's name from the Exit Control List (ECL) couldn’t be removed at this stage as he had been ‘interacting with hostile elements’ including Indian intelligence agency RAW since 2008 and was likely to be involved in future publications against the interest of Pakistan.
Durrani has served the Pakistan Army for 32 years and held the post of Director General of the ISI during 1989-99, when Pakistan had trained a large number of Kashmiri youth in arms handling and subversion and sent them back to the Valley to launch insurgency against the state .
He carries the reputation of being a professional with no political leanings although at present his revelations of track two diplomacy in the book, is seen as his pro-Nawaz Sharif stand by Pakistani analysts.
In his media interactions, Durrani has remained unapologetic about ISI’s involvement in anti-India activities with the help of sponsored terrorists.
In its reply to the Court while opposing removal of Durrani’s name from the ECL, the Military Intelligence said a number of publications were in the pipeline that had content to create misperception, confusions, question marks against the top leadership circles at country level.
Besides, the MI told the court that his name could not be removed from ECL ‘at this stage’ as inquiries being conducted against him were yet to be finalised.
It said the former ISI chief wanted to travel abroad with the intention of participating in international conferences, forums and talks which will have "serious national security implications as evident from the recently published book 'Honour Among Spies'" — which was also authored by Durrani and published "through Indian publishers/RAW supported elements".
In February 2019, an inquiry of the Pakistan Army had found Durrani guilty of violating the military’s code of conduct by writing the book. A military court subsequently stripped him of his pension and other post-retirement benefits that he got restored after a year-long legal battle.
The case will come up for hearing in February.