In an unprecedented move, Pakistan’s military has barred an ex-spy chief from leaving the country, after ordering a probe into a book he co-authored with a former counterpart from rival India.
An army statement said Monday the former head of Inter-Services Intelligence, Asad Durrani, was summoned to the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi for an explanation over the recently launched book attributed to him.
“A formal court of inquiry headed by a serving Lt. General has been ordered to probe the matter in detail,” the army announced, and added “competent authority” has been instructed to place Durrani’s name on an Exit Control List.
The list contains names of people facing legal proceedings and probes in Pakistan to prevent them from fleeing the country.
Durrani, who headed ISI from 1990 to 1992, authored the book along with Amarjit Singh Dulat, former head of India’s Research and Analysis Wing, and Indian journalist Aditya Sinha.
The book titled The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace was launched earlier this month in New Delhi where Durrani was also invited, but Indian authorities refused him a travel visa.
The Pakistan army maintained Durrani’s role in the book was being “taken as a violation of Military Code of Conduct applicable on all serving and retired military personnel.”
Durrani has been under fire at home, particularly from ex-military officials for teaming up with the former Indian spy chief to write the book at a time when relations between the two countries are at a low and deadly clashes in the disputed Kashmir region have raised regional military tensions.
The book in question is a series of debates between Durrani and Dulat, along with Sinha, on a wide range of issues, including the Kashmir territorial dispute between India and Pakistan. The authors maintained they have attempted to explore ways to bring the two nuclear-armed countries together to defuse regional tensions.
Pakistani army officials reportedly have objected to some of the comments in the book, dismissing them as baseless and contrary to facts, but they gave no further explanation for Monday’s actions against Durrani.
It is widely perceived in Pakistan that politicians and activists campaigning for a peaceful relationship with India are declared traitors and maligned allegedly at the behest of the military and ISI to discourage peace efforts, but retired as well as serving army officers are not held accountable for undertaking similar activities.
The controversial book discusses ISI’s alleged links to Muslim rebels in Indian portion of Kashmir. Durrani has also suggested the Pakistani military leadership at the time covertly assisted the United States in conducting the famous 2011 raid in the city of Abbottabad that killed al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.
U.S. leaders maintain the raid was conducted without Pakistan’s knowledge and they have found no evidence Pakistan officials were aware of bin Laden’s presence in the country.