The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace

Asad Durrani to face inquiry over ‘Spy Chronicles‘: ISPR

A formal inquiry will be conducted into the controversial book ‘Spy Chronicles‘, co-authored by retired Lt Gen Asad Durrani, shared …

The name of a former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief, retired Lt Gen Asad Durrani — who recently co-authored a book with former Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) chief Amarjit Singh Dulat — will be placed on the no-fly list, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) announced on Monday. The statement followed Durrani’s summoning to General Headquarters (GHQ) on Monday to “explain his position on views attributed to him” in the book, titled The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace. The release of the book has sparked accusations of treachery against the former spy chief after his candid views on various matters of regional and global concern came under intense public scrutiny. “The competent authority [has been] approached to place his [Durrani] name on the Exit Control List,” army spokesperson Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor announced on Monday via Twitter. He added that “a formal Court of Inquiry headed by a serving Lt Gen has been ordered to probe the matter in detail”. [Dawn]

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India, Pakistan’s Spy Masters’ Tell-All

For years AS Dulat, as the Chief of India’s external intelligence agency RAW, and General Asad Durani, the head of Pakistan’s ISI, would have plotted to undermine each other’s organisation. There would have been nothing friendly about this process – both Dulat and Durani were clear about their jobs and would use any means necessary to get the job done. Which is why the last thing you would expect would be to see them together on this programme after having written a book together called ‘Spy Chronicles RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace’. It’s been put together by the journalist Aditya Sinha, who is also with us. When this project started, Gen Durrani apparently said “no one would believe it even if it was written as fiction.” Well, it has been written and provides a first hand account into the workings of two of the world’s premier spy agencies in dealing with the biggest national security issues that affect India and Pakistan – Kashmir, not least among them. [ND TV…. Video …]

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Former ISI chief Lt. Gen (retd) Asad Durrani has defended ‘The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace’, a book he has co-authored with former RAW chief AS Dulat and an Indian journalist Aditiya Sinha. Speaking to The Express Tribune, he said the literary collaboration was simply a case of two people with experience in Indo-Pak affairs joining hands to discuss their respective perspectives.

Regarding criticism from Nawaz Sharif and Raza Rabbani, the former ISI chief said anyone – be it a civilian or a former military official – who has been at the centre of such bilateral matters and experience, has a right to write their memoirs and share their perspectives. He maintained that those criticising the book have not actually gone through it. “They are reaching conclusions based on distorted news items,” he said. Durrani added that the focus of the criticism should be on the substance of the book, rather than who wrote it. [The Tribune]

Review: The Nation

In another first in collaboration between Pak-Indian elements, the Durrani-Dulat book has re-presented the undercurrents of the bilateral relationship between the estrange neighbours, with Kashmir at the epicenter, bringing into question India’s hostile stance towards its neighbour.

The book is mainly a series of discussions conducted between the two former adversaries on a range of topics where the authors counter preconceived ideas, conflicting perspectives and opposing viewpoints, attesting to how both sides have socially, politically and militarily defined themselves through the lens of opposition to each other, much to the detriment of a possible peaceful engagement.

Where both the authors are in imminent danger of coming under fire and be labelled whistle-blowers by conservative hawks back at home, the memoir of the two contemporaries should be commended for being a brave hand at brokering peace in the region. Where their former vocations and experiences command credibility, the fact that both of them had actively engaged in adversarial roles and placed their intrinsic differences aside to initiate dialogue between the disparate countries is a huge turning point in the course of the history of Pak-Indian relations. Where the idea might be disdained as idealistic and one that is oblivious to the more subversive political nuances, the concept of implementing a joint mechanism to address terrorism together through collaboration between the intelligence agencies is a step that needs to be advocated.

The book makes revolutionary strides in its acknowledgement of the policy of repression and violence in Kashmir, one that asserts the might of the occupying power over the people. Confirmed by the former spy chief, it calls for the rightful condemnation of the violence on both sides of the border, inviting support and assent from many quarters of the establishment and public in India, and bringing into question the recalcitrant and antagonistic stance adopted by Delhi that has stalled any headway towards reconciliation.

The book comes at a time of mounting opposition to the reign of Modi which  requires the dialectic of advocating a peaceful and humanitarian approach in Kashmir. Notwithstanding the political machinations and motivations behind the reception of the book, the change in stance and acknowledgment of the current Indian establishment’s atrocity in India will go a long way in urging a change in Indian’s autocratic policies in occupied Kashmir and ultimately a bilateral relationship with Pakistan. With the two militaries planning a first joint participation in a multinational exercise against terrorism in Russia under the aegis of SCO and overtures at resuming talks, the time is ripe to make new strides in diplomatic and strategic fields in this relationship as envisaged by this book.

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