In May 2018, a book was published that set off a perfect storm in the intelligence circles in the subcontinent. What made The Spy Chronicles unusual was that two of its authors, A.S. Dulat and Asad Durrani, co-writing with journalist Aditya Sinha, had headed their respective spy agencies – Dulat had been chief of India’s RAW, and Lt Gen. Durrani of Pakistan’s ISI. The fallout of the book would result in Lt Gen. Durrani being put on the exit control list and having his pension revoked.
His latest book, Honour Among Spies, is a fictional account of a spy who is sent out into the cold, but one that reflects all too accurately the predicament of a distinguished officer fighting to protect his reputation. Read this Q&A with the man himself to find out more:
Could you give us an overview of what Honour Among Spies is all about?
Essentially about the events that followed the appearance of Spy Chronicles in May 2018 – and how they guided me to understand the rancor some in the military hierarchy had been harbouring against me for the last many years.
Their objections to my second book merely confirmed that the two books merely provided them the pretext to settle some old scores.
There is plenty in the book that didn’t happen, but may in some form in the future – the court scenes for example.
Fictional meetings with the foreign intelligence agents were more to establish a link with both the books – but importantly also with the drop scene on OBL.
After two works of non-fiction, what prompted you to gravitate towards writing fiction this time?
Number of reasons: much of it is assessment that cannot be proven if someone were to take a legal recourse; without some padding a wholesome book could not be written; a fictional account provides more flexibility; and indeed to spice up the narrative.
One aspect of the story is that it reflects the predicament of a distinguished officer fighting to protect his reputation. How much of you and your experience is mirrored in the book?
This is probably the most important reason – along with the need to reassure my co-author, Mr. Dulat, that it wasn’t the joint venture (his idea) that landed me in trouble – for writing this book. It largely reflects my career, experience and outlook . The chapter on the female Obama is based almost entirely on actual events.
Your last book, The Spy Chronicles, kicked up quite a storm two years ago in India and in Pakistan. The fallout for you was heavy, with your pension being revoked and you being put on the exit control list. Are you expecting similar backlash following the publication of Honour Among Spies too?
No idea; it may be ignored, or create a heavier storm. But getting the truth out overweighed the costs of any negative consequences.
The Pakistan government has now reportedly restored your pension, which had been revoked earlier following the publication of The Spy Chronicles. Do you feel a sense of vindication – and does it give you the confidence that your critics don’t have firm ground to stand on?
Restoration of pension was no big deal. The court case is actually about the legitimacy of the process and the GHQ’s jurisdiction – both the points amply highlighted in the novel. This was also the statement I made publicly.
Having now tried your hand at both, which do you think is the bigger challenge – writing fiction or non-fiction?
Writing fiction was great fun, but I would rather stick to my time-tested practice of making assessments of events relating to my experience and expertise.
What are you currently working on?
Reading more, writing random articles on day to day developments, but also thinking about the framework of the next book.
Vikram Sood's latest book, Honour Among Spies, is a fictional account of a spy who is sent out into the cold, but one that reflects all too accurately the predicament of a distinguished officer fighting to protect his reputation. Read this Q&A with the man himself to find out more.
He used fictional names in the book but similarities are clear.
The Pakistan government has now reportedly restored his pension, which had been revoked earlier following the publication of The Spy Chronicles.