Two Pakistani Army Officers on Trial for Spying

Asia

23 February 2019, 09:32

M.News

Pakistan’s military, in a rare announcement, said Friday that it had initiated court-martial proceedings against two senior officers on charges of espionage, VOA news reports.

The army spokesman made the revelation at a news conference at the general headquarters in Rawalpindi.

“There are two [senior army] officers who are under military custody on the charges of espionage,” said Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor.

He emphasized the two cases were not linked with each other and said there was “no network as such.” Ghafoor gave no details about the officers’ identity, ranks or countries for which they allegedly were spying.

“The army chief has ordered a field general court-martial [of the officers], which is currently in the process,” Ghafoor said. Details of the court-martial will be shared with reporters once it is concluded, he added.

A one-star general and a three-star general are among detainees, a senior army official told VOA.

Death penalty possible

The espionage charges carry punishment upon conviction that ranges from a seven-year jail sentence to the death penalty, depending on the outcome of the trial, the official said.

FILE - A Pakistani salesman shows "Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace," co-written by Asad Durrani, a retired Pakistani army officer, at a bookstore in Islamabad, May 30, 2018.
FILE – A Pakistani salesman shows “Spy Chronicles: RAW, ISI and the Illusion of Peace,” co-written by Asad Durrani, a retired Pakistani army officer, at a bookstore in Islamabad, May 30, 2018.

Ghafoor also informed reporters that an ongoing inquiry had found Gen. Asad Durrani, the former head of the country’s Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency, guilty of violating the military’s code of conduct.

The army spokesman noted the former ISI chief had been stripped of his pension and related allowances to which retired army officers are entitled.

The inquiry against Durrani was initiated months ago for co-authoring a book with A.S. Dulat, a former chief of archrival India’s spy agency, the Research and Analysis Wing.

The book, Spy Chronicles, was published last year and contained new details on security-related issues, including the 2011 unilateral U.S. military raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Durrani has since also been barred from traveling abroad. The army spokesman said Durrani’s name remains on a so-called Exit Control List that prevents people under investigation from leaving Pakistan.

FILE - Indian soldiers stand guard near the site of a Feb. 14 suicide bomb attack in Lethpora in south Kashmir's Pulwama district, Feb. 15, 2019.
FILE – Indian soldiers stand guard near the site of a Feb. 14 suicide bomb attack in Lethpora in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, Feb. 15, 2019.

Attack in Kashmir

Ghafoor released details about legal proceedings against senior army officers as Pakistan’s tensions with India have escalated dangerously over last week’s suicide car bomb attack on an Indian paramilitary convoy in the disputed Kashmir region that killed 40 security personnel.

Pakistan’s army chief, Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa, visited the Line of Control dividing the Himalayan region between the two countries, and he reviewed the “state of preparedness.”

An official announcement quoted Bajwa as telling his troops: “Pakistan is a peace-loving country but we will not be intimidated or coerced. Any aggression or misadventure shall be paid back in same coin.”

India has blamed a Pakistan-based militant group — Jaish-e-Mohammad, allegedly tied to ISI — for being behind Thursday’s bombing in the Pulwama district and vowed to punish Islamabad. Pakistan rejected the charges as baseless.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan assured India on Wednesday of full cooperation in an investigation of the incident, provided New Delhi shared “actionable evidence” linking any Pakistani citizen to the violence.

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