Former ISI Chief Explains The “RAW Connection”
When my book the “Spy Chronicles” was launched on the 23rd of May 2018 in New Delhi, the highlight was a discussion on the publication. On the stage were Manmohan Singh and Hamid Ansari, a former prime minister and vice president respectively – and amongst the discussants, besides Dr. Farooq Abdullah, were an impressive array of retired union ministers, intelligence chiefs and a national security advisor. In the presence of a galaxy of the Indian strategic community, they agreed that India must address the Kashmir issue in collaboration with Pakistan. This favourable moment was drowned in the cacophony generated here for reasons that dawned on me a few months later.
I used to wonder why in the GHQ sponsored events, the text in the book was being distorted, charges like revealing national secrets without any reference to its script were being bandied about – and most importantly, no law was cited under which I was being prosecuted. A few months down the line, at least one of the root-causes started becoming clear. It was the Asghar Khan Case (AKC) in which Gen. Aslam Beg, a former Army Chief, and I were amongst many who had been indicted by the Supreme Court. When Gen. Bajwa became the COAS, he persuaded the Apex Court to transfer the part concerning the two of us – as we had served in the Army – to the GHQ.
End of 2018, I was grilled for two months to prove Gen. Beg’s involvement. I provided what was already on record but withheld some till Beg – the first respondent in the Supreme Court’s judgment – was called for the cross-examination. He was not, and so there has not been any further movement on the subject for the last over two years. Understandable – both Generals Beg and Bajwa were commissioned in the same unit, 16 Baluch. It also explained why the spooks had started hounding me soon after Bajwa assumed charge—long before anyone had even heard of the “Spy Chronicles.” I was denied security clearance for events that I used to attend as a matter of course. Even General Mahmud Durrani was once prevented till the mix-up was cleared with Gen. Bajwa. Only a week back, when the Deputy Attorney General leveled the RAW related charges and referred to the hardly relevant AKC, I wasn’t surprised that he too – like many from his ilk – was twisting facts.
In the meantime, I also suspect that another episode involving another army chief from the Baluch Regiment too may have played a significant role in my incarceration. It was under Kayani’s watch that OBL was killed. My assessment – a bit doctored in favour of my institution – that it couldn’t have happened without our help and we must have bargained for the right dividends, seem to have made him very uncomfortable. That and the fact that many of the residents of the area have confirmed that the roads leading to the house in Abbotabad had been blocked a day before the raid, confirmed my assessment – shared by a large number of investigators.
There are indeed some good people within my former institution who are privy to what happened – and have in their own way tried to defuse the issue. But as it often happens, the “hawks” have not only scuttled such efforts but also continued to “dig deeper in the hole”. The charges of revealing secrets were never substantiated but some of their counsels keep harping on them in the courts. And if they had an iota of proof of the alleged “RAW” links, by now all hell would have broken lose.