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ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad High Court on Friday gave last chance to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to submit a reply in former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief retired Lt General Asad Durrani's petition seeking removal of his name from the ECL. A single-bench of Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani heard the petition filed by the former spymaster, and directed the ministry to submit its reply in this connection.

During the course of hearing, the IHC bench said the ministry had already stopped the pension and incentives of Durrani as punishment then why it still wanted his name on the ECL. Additional Attorney General (AAG) Tariq Khokher adopted the stance that he would inform the court regarding the matter after taking instructions from the federation.

Justice Kiyani remarked how the interior and defense ministries were working, adding that the petitioner's benefits and pension had already been abolished as punishment. He further said the situation would have been different if he was required to be sent to jail.

The bench observed that the Defense Ministry did not explain the reasons to keep Durrani's name on the ECL. Then, it gave last opportunity to the ministry to submit a written reply, and deferred the proceedings till December 4th. In his petition, Durrani adopted that the Interior Ministry did not decide his representation for review of its decision on his travel ban.

He requested the IHC to initiate contempt of court proceedings against interior secretary for not complying with the court's direction, and order the Interior Ministry to decide the matter immediately.

The Military Intelligence (MI) had written to the Interior Ministry in 2018 to put Durrani's name on the ECL for co-authoring a book, "The Spy Chronicles", with Amarjit Singh Dulat, a former chief of the Indian spy agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

On February 28 last year, Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani had directed the federal government to decide his representation pending before the Interior Ministry for review of the decision to place him on the ECL.

The former DG ISI had approached the court through his counsel Omer Farouk Adam and cited Secretary Interior Ministry, Secretary Defense and Qalandar Khan section officer (ECL) Ministry of Interior as respondents.

The petitioner stated in his petition that he retired from the army in 1993 as a three-star general, since then he had served as Pakistan's ambassador to Germany and Saudi Arabia, while he had numerously represented Pakistan in various seminars, conferences and dialogues both nationally and around the world.

He added that on May 29, 2018, without any notice or intimation a memorandum placing the petitioner on the ECL was issued by the respondents. The reason given therein is his alleged involvement in an ongoing inquiry.

Durrani told the court that on 5th September 2018, he requested the Adjutant General Pakistan Army to remove his name from the ECL on account of professional commitments, and that he and his wife wanted to visit their grandchildren living abroad.

He continued that after receiving no response from the Adjutant General Officer, the petitioner requested Secretary Interior to review his decision and remove his name from the ECL. The petitioner maintained that the respondents have failed to respond to the petitioner's numerous requests in this regard.

"They are in breach of petitioner's fundamental rights as guaranteed by Article 4, 9, 15 and 18 of the Constitution," added Durrani.

"Restraining the petitioner from meeting his children and grandchildren living abroad is against his fundamental right to life and liberty as guaranteed by Article 9 of the Constitution of Pakistan," said the petition.

Therefore, he urged the court to quash the impugned memorandum of placing his name on the ECL for being illegal, arbitrary, without jurisdiction and contrary to law and articles of the Constitution of Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020