Pakistan and India were surprised when the news of former director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt. General Asad Durrani co-authoring a book with A.S Dulat, Ex-head of Indian Intelligence agency, RAW, emerged last week.
This isn’t the first time a veteran spy is going to write about their experiences but what really sets it apart is that it is co-written by two spymasters of two countries that share a sensitive relationship.
Given how sensitive and volatile the relationship between the two countries is, and how the spy agencies play an important part in this relationship, it was only natural that both Indian and Pakistani citizens were left a bit surprised.
The two spymasters couldn’t meet with each other directly in their home countries, so the conversations between them took place in countries like Istanbul, Kathmandu, and Bangkok. These conversations were guided by Aditya Sinha who will have extensive inputs in the book aswell.
More about the ‘Spy Chronicles’ book
The publisher, HarperCollins India describe the book as:
Pointing to the horizon where the sea and sky are joined, he says, ‘It is only an illusion because they can’t really meet, but isn’t it beautiful, this union which isn’t really there.’ – SAADAT HASAN MANTO
Sometime in 2016, a series of dialogues took place which set out to find a meeting ground, even if only an illusion, between A.S. Dulat and Asad Durrani. One was a former chief of RAW, India’s external intelligence agency, the other of ISI, its Pakistani counterpart. As they could not meet in their home countries, the conversations, guided by journalist Aditya Sinha, took place in cities like Istanbul, Bangkok and Kathmandu.
On the table were subjects that have long haunted South Asia, flashpoints that take lives regularly. It was in all ways a deep dive into the politics of the subcontinent, as seen through the eyes of two spymasters. Among the subjects: Kashmir, and a missed opportunity for peace; Hafiz Saeed and 26/11; Kulbhushan Jadhav; surgical strikes; the deal for Osama bin Laden; how the US and Russia feature in the India-Pakistan relationship; and how terror undermines the two countries’ attempts at talks.
When the project was first mooted, General Durrani laughed and said nobody would believe it even if it was written as fiction. At a time of fraught relations, this unlikely dialogue between two former spy chiefs from opposite sides-a project that is the first of its kind-may well provide some answers.
Where to buy the book in Pakistan?
The book ‘Spy Chronicles – RAW ISI and the Illusion of Peace’ can be bought from Liberty Books. You can preorder the book from their online store for PKR 1,435.50.
For people outside of Pakistan, get it from Amazon.