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Honour Amongst Spies: A fictional account that reveals many uncomfortable truths about Pakistan and the Deep State


Lt Normal Asad Durrani with AS Dulat

By C Uday Bhaskar

That is an uncommon e-book. Maybe the phrase uncommon begins with the primary e-book authored by Pakistan’s former ISI (Inter-Companies Intelligence) chief Lt Normal Asad Durrani (retd), The Spy Chronicles, in 2018. For, this was co-written by Pakistan’s former spy chief together with his Indian counterpart AS Dulat, who headed RAW (Analysis and Evaluation Wing), and the textual content derived from an prolonged dialogue between the 2 spooks moderated by journalist Aditya Sinha.

The Durrani-Dulat dialogue was a primary for the subcontinent and I can’t recall the same quantity by two skilled spy chiefs who at one time had been adversaries within the opaque and sometimes murky area of espionage, assassinations and devious statecraft, a la James Bond.

Curiously, the title of the e-book underneath overview is similar because the final in a trilogy on Ian Fleming, the creator of Bond, by Quinn Fawcett (printed 2004), although that’s the place the similarity ends.

Durrani’s deal with ‘honour’ and its detailed, at instances rambling, interpretation of the private cross {that a} spy-master has to hold is extra within the nature of presenting his aspect of a saga that adopted the publication of his first e-book with Dulat. In India, Spy Chronicles created a mini flutter when it appeared and progressively receded from public reminiscence, however in Pakistan it evidently set off a tsunami.

The Pakistani army institution and the intelligence businesses, aka because the Deep State, had been clearly incensed with what was ostensibly revealed (the bin Laden-Abbotabad deceit amongst different issues) and this resulted in stringent penalties being imposed on Durrani. In an unusually harsh step, not solely was the creator positioned on an exit management listing (which means Durrani couldn’t depart Pakistan), his pension was revoked as nicely. This apparently has since been restored.

Getting a way of the vicious marketing campaign towards him, Durrani recalled a comment in a dialog with Dulat, the place the latter had remarked that their shared reminiscences had been such that “nobody would consider us even when we wrote it as fiction”. And that is when Durrani took the plunge to current his aspect of the story to counter the numerous costs levelled towards him by writing a fictional novel, which, he claims, is “the figment of my creativeness — at instances even delirium.” What follows within the e-book is ostensibly fiction, however the veil that conceals ‘info’ is so palpably skinny that it’s meant to disclose a actuality that solely Durrani might convey. Thus all of the names of the characters in Honour Amongst Spies have a corresponding real-life determine and the selection of names ranges from ‘simple to establish’ to plain comical. Durrani himself turns into Osama Barakzai, Imran Khan is Kadri and Nawaz Sharif is christened Naveen Shaikh. Former army colleagues are given simple to recognise handles: Normal Qamar Javed Bajwa, the Chief of Military Workers, turns into Jabbar Jatt, whereas Pervez Musharraf is well recognisable as Gulraiz Shahrukh. Many such odd names recur amongst each Pakistani and Indian interlocutors and Dulat himself is launched as Randhir Singh.

A complete of 21 chapters represent the e-book and the essence is considered one of Durrani pleading his case within the public area to clear his identify and fame that has been sullied by the Deep State. The proceedings of the Shariat Court docket are very instructive, having a sub-text that will likely be of curiosity to these monitoring the inner energy dynamic of Pakistan and its transmutation from the Zia ul Haq interval and the delivery of the Afghan mujahedin to ‘include’ Soviet presence within the area.

This was the part when Osama bin Laden was the righteous warrior – Kalsahnikov in a single hand and the Koran within the different – and billions of {dollars} and deadly arms from the USA had been routed by way of the ISI, thereby enhancing the profile of the organisation that Durrani was to move within the essential interval when the Chilly Struggle ended and the Soviet Union imploded.

The way wherein the Deep State went off the rails and compromised each professionalism and institutional integrity is documented in a fashion that nails the highest brass of the Pakistan military and each Normal Kayani (Rasalu is the nom de plume) and his coterie on whose watch the bin Laden Abbotabad episode occurred.

Within the final chapter, Barakzai addresses the lordships and says: “I’ll have began smelling a rat within the deal due to Rasalu’s well-known greed, however the final affirmation was supplied by Jatt’s blind adherence to tribal affiliations. Rasalu additionally belongs to the South Western Rifles and was as soon as Jatt’s boss.” The Kayani-Bajwa-Baluch regiment linkage is clear and deliberate.

Durrani’s account is a do-or-die stand that exposes the GHQ in Rawalpindi and the way wherein the military has turn into the kingmaker within the politics of Pakistan. Little surprise that this e-book has been completely blanked out in Pakistan and elicited a lot higher curiosity in India.

In a signed article that appeared in India, Durrani refers to his compulsions to take this thinly-veiled fiction path to clear his identify. He notes: “I used to be nonetheless reluctant to put in writing about the true occasions, however my hand was compelled by a really damning paper handed over by the (Pak) Ministry of Defence’s council within the newest listening to on the ECL (exit management listing) challenge. Moreover ‘spilling secrets and techniques and delving in nationwide safety’ — each points handled earlier on this account – I used to be accused of ‘being affiliated with R&AW since 2008’. Honour Amongst Spies too was alleged to have been supported by hostile parts.”

That is an uneven e-book with a marked streak of ‘stream-of-consciousness’ narrative that darts throughout the varied chapters – some as small as 4 pages. But it’s leavened by a tinge of unhappiness and impending tragedy that the creator can discern inside the venality and opacity of the world of espionage that he as soon as inhabited with certitude. Durrani closes his case with a reference to Godot and one hopes that his personal look forward to ‘justice’ doesn’t
turn into Sisyphean.

C Uday Bhaskar is director, Society for Coverage Research, New Delhi

Honour Amongst Spies
Asad Durrani
Harper Collins India
Rs 499 Pp 197

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