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IHC Orders Government to Remove Asad Durrani’s Name from ECL

by Newsweek Pakistan

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Chief Justice Athar Minallah rules there is no justification for restrictions on former spymaster’s travel outside Pakistan

The Islamabad High Court on Thursday ordered the government to remove the name of former spymaster Lt. Gen. (retd.) Asad Durrani from the Exit Control List, emphasizing that there was “no basis” for it.

During proceedings on a petition filed by Durrani to have his name removed from the ECL, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah questioned if the former ISI chief’s travel had been restricted because an inquiry was pending against him. He said that the court had examined all existing records and found that there had been no inquiry underway against Durrani when his name was placed on the ECL in 2018.

“Like all citizens, this retired three-star general also has rights,” he said, and asked the government’s counsel to explain whether the state had “free rein to put anyone’s [name] on the ECL.” To the additional advocate general asking the court to seek a response from the Ministry of Defense, the chief justice said there was “no need.” He said that in the absence of any fresh inquiry against Durrani, there was no reason to keep his name on the ECL.

Durrani’s petition had contended that his name was placed on the ECL pending an inquiry related to a book he co-authored with a former Indian spymaster. It noted that the inquiry had already been concluded but his name had yet to be removed from the ECL. Last month, the Ministry of Defense had opposed Durrani’s request, alleging he had been “interacting with hostile elements” such as India’s RAW since 2008 and might be involved in future publications against the interests of Pakistan.

In 2018, Durrani published The Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace, which he had co-authored with Amarjit Singh Dulat, the former head of India’s Research and Analysis Wing spy agency. After the book’s publication, Military Intelligence had asked the Interior Ministry to put his name on the ECL, pending a full inquiry.

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