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Ex-DG ISI Asad Durrani has been interacting with RAW since 2008: Defence Ministry

The Ministry of Defence has opposed a request seeking removal of former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general retired Lt Gen Asad Durrani’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL), saying 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.

Gen Durrani, who is among a few spymasters who headed both of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) as director-general, had challenged placement of his name on no-fly list in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) in 2019.

Durrani has come under scrutiny after co-authoring a book, titled ‘The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace’, with Amarjit Singh Dulat, the former head of India’s spy agency RAW, in 2018. Following the book’s publication, the MI had written to the Interior Ministry to put Durrani’s name on the ECL and the same was done in May 2018.

In its para-wise comments submitted in response to Durrani’s petition in the IHC on Wednesday, the Defence Ministry said that the former ISI chief’s name was placed on the no-fly list for “his involvement in anti-state activities”.

Opposing a request seeking removal of Gen Durrani’s name from the Exit Control List (ECL), the Defence Ministry has stated the retired general officer 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.

It said that a perusal of the book The Spy Chronicles revealed that it contained “certain contents concerning [the] national security of Pakistan, being in contravention of the provisions of the Official Secrets Acts, 1923”.

“It is further highlighted that there are [a] number of such publications on the way, supported by hostile elements which contain content to create misperception, confusions, question marks against the top leadership circles at country level and to target the common people,” reads the ministry’s response.

It added that Gen Durrani had been “affiliated/interacting with hostile elements especially Indian RAW since 2008”, saying although he had submitted an affidavit “committing to refrain from such activities” to the government, the same had still not been seen “in tangible terms”.

According to the ministry’s reply, Rule 2(c) of the Exit from Pakistan (Control) Rules, 2010, authorised the federal government to prohibit a person from exiting Pakistan for a foreign destination if the said person is involved in “‘acts of terrorism or its conspiracy’, ‘heinous crimes’ and ‘threatening national security’”.

Moreover, it says Articles 15 and 19 of the Constitution clearly stated that the “freedom of movement and freedom of speech are subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by [the] law in the public interest and integrity, security or defence of Pakistan”.

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