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Ex-ISI Chief Gen Durrani Guilty of Violating Army Code of Conduct

Ex-ISI Chief, Gen Durrani held guilty for violating military code of conduct after he co-wrote book with Ex-RAW head

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Politics
4 min read

Video Editor: Purnendu Pritam

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Former ISI Chief Lt Gen Asad Durrani (retd) has been found guilty of violating the military code of conduct. A probe was ordered against Durrani in 2018 after he had co-authored the book, ‘The Spy Chronicles’, with former RAW Chief AS Dulat. The Quint is re-publishing this interview from its archives. It first appeared on 24 July 2018.

In his latest book, Pakistan Adrift, former ISI Chief, General Asad Durrani has disclosed his view on the tensions between former prime ministers – Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif – and the Pakistan Army in Pakistan’s notorious tussles between the civilian government and the army.

His last book, The Spy Chronicles, had ruffled feathers at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. Unmindful of the controversy, former ISI Chief is all set to regale readers once again.

Speaking to The Quint, General Durrani rues how military intervention has affected the growth of democratic institutions in Pakistan.

This process in which they are alternating between a military regime and a political regime, it does affect the maturing of the democratic process, but the intention was not that.
General Asad Durrani, Former ISI Chief
Ex-ISI Chief Gen Durrani Guilty of Violating Army Code of Conduct
(Photo: The Quint)

Perils of the Eighth Amendment

In 1986, Durrani was rebuffed by former president and army chief General Zia-ul-Haq for suggesting that the military regime should be replaced with ‘undiluted democracy’.

In Pakistan, it is the military that calls the shots on an elected government’s stand on security and foreign policy. Even a hint of non-compliance on the part of a prime minister has resulted in his or her ouster in the past.

Either the military intervenes from behind the scenes, or takes over power, and then the whole thing, as brought out in the book, does not work out. Then, you go back to square one, or let’s say, even below square one.
General Asad Durrani, Former ISI Chief

It was by virtue of the Eighth Amendment that the Pakistan Army enjoyed such unbridled power. Section 58.2(b) allowed the President to dissolve the National Assembly and appoint a caretaker prime minister. In 1997, Nawaz Sharif tried to restore the supremacy of the prime minister’s office with his government passing the Thirteenth Amendment, which stripped the President of the reserve power to dismiss the National Assembly and trigger new elections.

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What Led to Benazir’s Ouster in 1990?

In Pakistan Adrift, Durrani has been quite critical of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto. A prominent leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party and two-time prime minister, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in 2007.

According to Durrani, it was Benazir’s inability to gel with the Troika (the system of governance dominated by PM, President and Army Chief) that led to her ouster in 1990.

On the nuclear front, we thought we’ll give her an exclusive briefing; on Kashmir, there were doubts because of a couple of incidents. When she (Benazir) was invited to get that exclusive briefing from the headquarters, without announcing, she brought along the American ambassador.
General Asad Durrani, Former ISI Chief
Ex-ISI Chief Gen Durrani Guilty of Violating Army Code of Conduct
(Photo: The Quint)

The presence of American ambassador at a briefing meant specifically for the prime minister didn’t go down well with the army.

By keeping the American ambassador in the loop on these matters – of course, very sensitive matters – I think it was one major milestone which led us to believe that, maybe she won’t go by the advice that any government would take.
General Asad Durrani, Former ISI Chief

Nawaz Had a Problem with Army Too

Not just Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif who is now in jail also got on the army’s bad side more than once.

In 1993, lashing out against then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan, former PM Nawaz Sharif had famously said, “I will not take dictations from anybody.”

According to Durrani, right from the beginning, Nawaz Sharif’s tenure as prime minister was marred by friction with the army.

I think it was not working out right from the beginning because the elected prime minister just got obsessed with a couple of victors. ‘Some people helped me, so-called kingmakers and so I must get rid of them otherwise they will keep on dictating to me’.
General Asad Durrani, Former ISI Chief
Ex-ISI Chief Gen Durrani Guilty of Violating Army Code of Conduct
(Photo: The Quint)

But Durrani does give credit to Sharif for rebutting India soon after the Pokhran tests with nuclear tests of their own. In the book, former ISI chief has termed it a ‘psychological’ issue that built pressure on the ruling government of Pakistan in 1998.

His (Nawaz Sharif) reason may have been different, it was certainly political otherwise he would have been politically a lame duck perhaps or dead duck, so he took that decision. That’s one action for which I give full credit to Nawaz Sharif.
General Asad Durrani, Former ISI Chief

Despite falling out with former army chief General Pervez Musharraf, Durrani hails his regime as one that restored confidence among the people. “You are not making policy just to please a few business houses, so that’s the advantage. So it (military coup) was very well received,” says Durrani.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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