By Qaiser Butt
Pakistan has refused to hand over one of its retired army generals to the International Tribunal of Hague on medical grounds, official sources told The Express Tribune.
The tribunal had demanded the custody of a former chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Javed Nasir, a retired lieutenant general, for his alleged support to Muslim fighters of Bosnia against the Serbian army in the 1990s, despite an embargo by the United Nations.
Islamabad had informed the court that the former general had ‘lost his memory’ following a recent road incident, and was, therefore, unable to face any investigation into the matter.
Nasir himself was not available for comment. However, his son, Omer Javed, told The Express Tribune that his father was not in service during the Bosnia war in 1993-95, as he had already been “removed from the army”.
The summons came when Serbian army officials were put on trial by The Hague Tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Bosnia, during which it was revealed that Nasir was actively involved in the war and had supported and provided arms to the Bosnian resistance.
The case was built on a ‘confessional statement’ that Nasir made in a petition filed by his legal counsel against an English daily after the newspaper published a report of his alleged involvement in embezzlement.
The former general in a petition filed in an anti-terrorism court in Lahore on October 23, 2002 had disclosed that “despite the UN ban on supply of arms to the besieged Bosnians, he successfully airlifted sophisticated anti-tank guided missiles which turned the tide in favour of Bosnian Muslims and forced the Serbs to lift the siege, much to the annoyance of the US government”.
Nasir further stated that he “became a target of US, Indian and secular-minded lobbies both inside and outside Pakistan.” Having failed to buy him off, he said, the US government started a propaganda campaign against him and demanded his removal as ISI chief – warning that, otherwise, “Pakistan would be declared a terrorist state”.
He further stated that over 300 articles were circulated on the internet by the western media which contained references dubbing Nasir the ‘only radical Islamist head of the ISI who was an active member of the Tableeghi Jamaat’.
In April 1993, the US finally warned Pakistan in writing to remove the complainant from his post of ISI chief – following which Nasir was prematurely retired from service by the caretaker government of Mir Balkh Sher Mazari on May 13, 1993, he stated.
The demand for Nasir’s custody came when the International Criminal Tribunal put on trial the former chief of the Yugoslavia army Gen Momcilo Perisic and his deputy Gen Ratko Mladic for war crimes and crimes against humanity during the war in Bosnia and Croatia in the 1990s.
Perisic and Ratko had reportedly told the court that the military help to the Bosnian Muslims by Gen Nasir forced them to retaliate against Bosnian Muslims, who were fighting against the Serb army for their national independence.
The authorities concerned declined to comment on the matter.
The Bosnian War followed the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991, when Serbs, Croats and Muslims fought for control of Bosnia-Herzegovina. Tactics used by the three factions were complex; allegiances changed as two sides would join forces against the third.
More than 100,000 people died after three-and-a-half years of conflict. The city of Sarajevo was in a state of permanent siege for the duration of the war.
The war saw a level of barbarism more marked than normal conflict. Mass rape, torture and indiscriminate murder were frequently carried out until the Dayton Peace Agreement paved the way for a settlement.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 20th, 2011.