Islamabad: Pakistan has refused to hand over a retired general, who headed the spy agency ISI, to an international tribunal investigating war crimes in Bosnia, according to a media report on Tuesday.
The Pakistan government cited medical grounds as its reason for not handing over former Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen (retired) Javed Nasir to the International Tribunal of Hague, official sources were quoted as saying by The Express Tribune newspaper.
The tribunal had demanded custody of Nasir for his alleged support to Bosnian Muslim fighters despite an embargo by the United Nations. The Bosnian Muslims were fighting against the Serbian army in the 1990s.
Pakistan has informed the international court that Nasir "lost his memory" following a recent road accident and was unable to face any investigation into the issue.
Nasir himself was unavailable for comment.
His son, Omer Javed, said the former general was not in service during the Bosnian war of 1993-95 as he had been "removed from the army" by then.
The summons for Nasir came when Serbian army officials were put on trial by the international tribunal for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Bosnia.
It was then revealed that Nasir was actively involved in
the war and had supported and provided arms to the Bosnian Muslim resistance.
The case was built on a "confessional statement" that Nasir made in a petition filed by his lawyer against an English daily after it published a report of his alleged involvement in embezzlement.
In the petition filed in an anti-terrorism court in Lahore on October 23, 2002, Nasir 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 said in the petition that he subsequently "became a target of US, Indian and secular-minded lobbies both inside and outside Pakistan".
Having failed to buy him off, the US government started a propaganda campaign against him, he claimed.
Nasir further claimed the US demanded his removal as ISI chief and warned that it would otherwise declare Pakistan "a terrorist state".
He further claimed that over 300 articles were circulated on the internet by the Western media that contained references
describing him as 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 Nasir from the post of ISI chief, following which the general was prematurely retired from service by the
caretaker government of Mir Balkh Sher Mazari on May 13, 1993, the petition said.
The demand for Nasir's custody came when the international tribunal put on trial the former chief of the Yugoslav army, Gen Momcilo Perisic, and his deputy Gen Ratko Mladic for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Perisic and Ratko reportedly told the court that military help to Bosnian Muslims by Nasir forced them to retaliate against the Muslims, who were fighting the Serbian army for national independence.