New Delhi (Sputnik): The Pakistan Army's move to ban several former military and intelligence wing officers from appearing as defence analysts on news and current affairs programmes in the electronic media indicates that Pakistan is insecure and is passing through a period of uncertainty, vis-à-vis its relationships with the international community and in particular with its neighbouring countries, India's former high commissioner to Pakistan G. Parthasarthy has opined.
Responding to news that the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Pakistan armed forces, had issued a gag order banning six former military and intelligence service officers, including the former chief of Pakistan's spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt. Gen. (Retired) Asad Durrani, from appearing as defence analysts on television-related news and current affairs programmes, Ambassador G. Parthasarthy told Sputnik "It is well known that Lt. Gen. (Retired) Asad Durrani was until recently pretty much a character of the establishment and not a fundamentalist. We all are aware that he has been in trouble with the Pakistan military establishment since the publication of the book ‘The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion', which he co-authored with A. S. Dulat, the former chief of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India's external intelligence outfit. It is wrong to believe that he did not have the beliefs of the Pakistan military relating to Afghanistan and India."
"I am, however, quite surprised and taken aback by the Pakistan Army and the ISPR's decision to ban Lt. Gen. Talat Masood, a retired three-star army general, a highly respected commentator on foreign and domestic issues and Pakistan's former Secretary for Defence Production. I know him very well. He is a man of great moderation. Banning him is rather strange as he is a well-known expert, a figure of moderation. What emerges, therefore, is that there is tremendous uncertainty in Pakistan and insecurity within the establishment, be it civil or military, especially when it comes to India. As far as Ret. Lt. Gen. Durrani is concerned, his equation with the Pakistan establishment has apparently changed because he wrote that book without seeking permission from the military or consulting them," Ambassador Parthasarthy told Sputnik.
Seven retired Lt. Generals are among those allowed to appear as defence analysts in the media.
"Their views/comments/opinions in the media shall remain personal/independent expression and not attributable to the institution," the ISI notification said.
It also said that any other retired officer desirous of appearing as a defence analyst can contact the ISPR to obtain a no-objection certificate.
In February this year, the Pakistan Army held Lt. Gen. Durrani guilty of violating the military code of conduct for co-authoring the controversial book with A.S. Dulat. The book touched upon some thorny issues, including terrorism, particularly the terror attack launched on Mumbai in November 2008, Kashmir and the influence of intelligence agencies. The Pakistan Army punished him by freezing his pension and other benefits. It also placed Lt. Gen. Durrani's name on a no-fly list, which prevents him from travelling abroad.
Giving his perspective on India-Pakistan relations going forward, Ambassador Parthasarthy told Sputnik that "India-Pakistan relations are on hold. Pakistan is under tremendous pressure from the Americans. We only need to recall the latest UN Security Council meeting on Masood Azhar (Jaish-e-Mohammad's leader). Fourteen of the 15 member countries wanted to declare him a global terrorist and wanted a ban to be imposed him. China was the only exception."
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