Monday, March 26, 2012

Interview with BBC : Durrani denies funding BNP for '91 polls

General Asad Durrani, former chief of Pakistani intelligence agency ISI, has outright denied funding BNP before the 1991 parliamentary polls of Bangladesh. 

In an exclusive interview with BBC Bangla Service on Saturday, the former ISI boss termed the allegation totally baseless and fabricated. 

Durrani also told the BBC that he never spoke about ISI's providing money to BNP, the main opposition party in Bangladesh, in his statement to the Pakistan Supreme Court.

“To my knowledge there was no reference to Bangladesh during the Supreme Court hearing and whatever I had said before the court is available there,” he said. 

“I, therefore, can say that nobody in the court spoke on providing such money [to BNP].”

Some local newspaper reports recently quoted the Dubai-based daily Khaleej Times as saying Asad Durrani in a court statement said BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia received 50 million rupees from the Inter-Services Intelligence before the 1991 elections. 

The ruling Awami League and BNP have locked horns over the issue since publishing of the reports. 

Ruling party leaders, including Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, opened a barrage of attacks against Khaleda Zia for the reported ISI link. The opposition at the very beginning rejected the claim. 

Threatening legal action, senior BNP leader Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir on Friday asked Hasina to apologise to the people for bringing “false” accusation against BNP of receiving money from the ISI.

Asked over the phone whether ISI had funded any other leaders of BNP other than Khaleda Zia, Durrani said “I don't remember. I believe none has done that.”

The former spy boss of Pakistan also said the ISI does not maintain any links with any Bangladeshi political party. “There is also no approach from their part [Bangladesh] to communicate with us.”

Durrani termed the media reports on the issue false, saying those were against the ethics of journalism. 

He, however, refused to comment as to what motivated the newspapers to publish such “false news”.