Pakistani Army orders inquiry against ex-spy chief; bars him from traveling abroad

Pakistan's former spymaster Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani (ret.). (Twitter photo)
Updated 28 May 2018

Pakistani Army orders inquiry against ex-spy chief; bars him from traveling abroad

  • Military probe ordered against retired three-star general
  • Army notifies relevant state department to bar Durrani’s travel overseas
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army has ordered “a formal court of inquiry” into retired Pakistani spymaster Lt. Gen. Asad Durrani who has become the center of attention over his damning revelations in a 255-page co-authored published book entitled, “The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace.”

Army spokesman Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor late Friday evening posted on social media that Durrani had been summoned to army headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi on Monday to explain his “attribution taken as violation of the Military Code of Conduct applicable to all serving and retired military personnel."

Durrani appeared before an army review panel at the “GHQ” (General Headquarters) on Monday, according to an army statement, in order “to explain his position about the recently launched book." Subsequently, the army ordered a detailed probe, headed by “a serving lietenant general,” against the retired three-star general.

The army has also approached the relevant authority, probably the Federal Investigation Agency, “to place the name” of the former Inter-Services Intelligence chief on the country’s “Exit Control List” to prevent Durrani from traveling abroad.

“I am not willing to talk on this subject with anyone," repeated Durrani speaking from his home to Arab News. He has maintained his silence by refusing to clarify how he was able to obtain classified information of events, some of which happened after his tenure serving as head of Pakistan’s prime intelligence agency from 1990 to 1992.

The book, penned in a casual dialogue format between Durrani and former Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) chief Amarjit Singh Dulat, moderated by Indian journalist Aditya Sinha, reveals some startling pieces of information ranging from disputed Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani relations, spies and clandestine agencies, politics and heads of state, to doctrines, Afghanistan, Russia, the US, and Bin Laden.

“There are chances that he will be penalized by looking at public pressure and social media campaigns against him,” said political analyst Qamar Cheema to Arab News. “He’s already a liability for the military as he distorted the army’s image in the 1990s while choreographing alliances against the (left wing) Pakistan People’s Party and doling out money to politicians."

The unsubstantiated revelations, whether true, exaggerated, or false, also caught political attention. Deposed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, speaking to reporters outside the accountability court Friday said, “An NSC (National Security Committee) meeting should be convened to discuss the threats that come with Durrani’s new book written with a former RAW chief."

Sharif was subjected to national criticism earlier this month over his statement that the 2008 Mumbai attacks were interpreted as an admission of Pakistan’s involvement in the act of terror. An NSC meeting was convened which condemned Sharif’s remarks.

However in this case, Durrani’s book “crossed the line” said Khalid Mohammed, director general of the Islamabad-based think tank, Command Eleven, who said that punitive measures might be taken against the former spy chief by the army.

“A gag order barring him from commenting on military affairs can be passed; they can suspend his pension and take away his army allotted land and the potential of that happening to him is very high.”

Mohammed said Durrani condemned himself by authoring a highly controversial book with a former Indian RAW chief.

“You carried a Pakistani flag on your shoulder; you were a member of Pakistan’s armed forces, and you have benefited from the armed forces. Therefore you are accountable," concluded Khalid, adding that Durrani must explain the motives behind his revelations which are viewed as state secrets.

British Airways to resume Pakistan flights next week after a decade

Updated 23 May 2019

British Airways to resume Pakistan flights next week after a decade

  • BA halted service to Pakistan in the wake of the 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing in Islamabad
  • BA will begin the London Heathrow-Islamabad service with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner

ISLAMABAD: British Airways will resume flights to Pakistan next week a decade after it suspended operations following a major hotel bombing, becoming the first Western airline to restart flights to the South Asian country.

BA halted service to Pakistan in the wake of the 2008 Marriott Hotel bombing in the capital Islamabad that took place during a period of devastating Islamist militant violence in Pakistan.

Security has since improved, with militant attacks sharply down in the mainly Muslim country of 208 million people, reviving Pakistan as a destination for tourist and investors.

“The final touches are coming together for the airline’s return ahead of the first flight on Sunday June 2,” British Airways said in a statement. It will launch a three-per-week service to London Heathrow, it said.

“We’re on board,” Pakistani Civil Aviation spokeswoman Farah Hussain said about the flights resumption.

BA, which is owned by Spanish-registered IAG, will begin the London Heathrow-Islamabad service with the airline’s newest long-haul aircraft, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

At present, only loss-making national carrier Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flies directly from Pakistan to Britain, but its ageing fleet of planes is a frequent source of complaints by passengers.

Middle Eastern carriers Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates have a strong presence in Pakistan and have been eating into PIA’s dwindling market share. Turkish Airlines also lays on a regular service to Pakistan.

Islamabad has been running international advertising campaigns to rejuvenate its tourism sector, which was wiped out by Islamist violence that destabilised the country following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States and the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

“We hope customers in both the UK and Pakistan will enjoy the classically British service we offer, with thoughtful bespoke touches,” Andrew Brem, Chief Commercial Officer at British Airways, said in BA’s statement.

BA said there will be a halal meal option in every cabin and the airline would also ensure sauces in every meal do not contain alcohol or pork.