Lt-Gen Asad Durrani, a retired former spymaster, finds himself in hot water again. In a response to a petition filed by Gen Durrani against his name being put on the Exit Control List submitted to the Islamabad High Court, the defence ministry claimed that he was communicating with the Indian intelligence agency RAW and was likely to be active in future publications in the interests of Pakistan.
After the release of a book based on his conversations with a former head of RAW, Military Intelligence had asked the Interior Ministry to place his name on the ECL and he was accordingly put on the ECL in 2018. In its reaction to the IHC, the defence ministry objected withdrawing his name from the list, arguing that he was placed on the list for “his involvement in anti-state activities.”
Two former heads of ISI and RAW talking about the Pakistan-India alliance and related issues may have raised some eyebrows for their core theme in the book that landed the former general in trouble. There is hardly anything, though, in the book that could be treated as a state secret. In these extremely sensitive positions, there are views and analyses of the two former spy chiefs based on their perspectives, but it is reasonably clear that no national secrets have been revealed by Gen Durrani.
Subsequently, he has wrote a fantasy novel that, so to speak, does not spill the beans either. It is also shocking that the state responded to the two books so severely and launched disciplinary measures against the retired general. Perhaps more shocking is the text submitted by the Minister of Defense, and the vocabulary it uses. It is unfortunate to suspect a former president of the ISI of being involved in anti-state practises. Before documenting it in such a manner, more attention should have been given to the matter.
It sheds everyone a negative light. Of course, this is not to suggest that if anybody, regardless of his status, is found engaged in actions that are harmful to the national interest, the state should look the other way.
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However, in this situation, such a strong allegation should be accompanied by credible evidence. There does not seem to be any other evidence in the books which may show that the former general was engaged in anti-state activities. If the state has any other evidence to substantiate the charges, it would be wise for it to put forward such evidence in order to strengthen its case.