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.

Minister rejects report suggesting soybean dust caused Karachi toxic gas deaths

Updated 20 February 2020

Minister rejects report suggesting soybean dust caused Karachi toxic gas deaths

  • 14 people have died since Sunday night, 350 have been hospitalized
  • Karachi University experts earlier identified soybean dust as possible cause of the deaths

KARACHI: Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Haider Zaidi on Wednesday rejected a university report that said soybean dust from a cargo ship was a likely cause of fatal poisoning that has claimed the lives of 14 people in Karachi since Sunday.
”How come the dust from the ship travels over a kilometer and only affects people in a specific area called Jungle Shah and does not affect anyone else?” the minister told Arab News. “I reject the report,” he said, adding that it was “questionable.”
“Why the dust from soybeans did not affect the crew of the ship and 400+ laborers who were busy offloading the cargo,” Zaidi argued and said forensic investigations were underway to determine the cause of the poisoning. “Will not speculate anything before we see all the reports. This is a scientific forensic investigation.”
Provincial authorities and Karachi University experts said on Tuesday said that soybean dust was the likely cause of the toxic gas that killed 14 and left over 350 people sick.
“Preliminary report has been submitted by experts at Khi (Karachi) Uni (university) which suggests that Kiamari incident happened due to over exposure of soybean dust which is known to have also caused similar incidents in other parts of the world,” Murtaza Wahab, spokesperson of the Sindh government tweeted late Tuesday.
The report by the International Center for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS) said the deaths were likely due to soybean dust exposure.
“The symptoms due to exposure to soybean dust (aeroallergens) may be considered as the possible cause,” the report said.
Earlier, a government source told Arab News that the incident occurred following the unloading of soybeans on Saturday evening at berth 12 of Karachi Port Trust (KPT) after MV Hercules arrived from the US. The unloading created dust which made its way toward Jackson area of Karachi’s Kiamari municipality.
According to sources, MV Hercules was fumigated on Jan. 8 at Cargill grain reserve Los Angeles, US with 56-degree aluminum phosphide.
Repeated exposure to the substance may damage the lungs, kidneys and liver, the sources said, adding that “it is likely that exposure to particles of aluminum phosphide may have created problems for individuals passing by at that time and such unfortunate incident.”