Agosta submarine deal - Benazir, Zardari not involved: ex-naval spy chief

Published: December 5, 2010
The third of Pakistan’s new Agosta 90B submarines, PNS Hamza. PHOTO: FILE

The third of Pakistan’s new Agosta 90B submarines, PNS Hamza. PHOTO: FILE

Former director-general of Naval Intelligence Commodore (retd ) Shahid Ashraf has said that President Asif Ali Zardari and former prime minister Benazir Bhutto were not involved in the deal for the purchase of Agosta submarines from France.

He said that though he was “pressurised to get them involved” but he did not succumb.

Participating in an Express News programme Kalamkar with Abbas Athar as host, he said that, in 1992, during the first Nawaz Sharif government, the Navy was given approval to acquire new submarines for $520 million.

The programme was also attended by columnist Abdul Qadir Hasan.

A team, comprising Admiral Naqvi, Admiral Javed Iftihkhar and Admiral SA Mujtaba, was constituted. The team visited China, France, Sweden and the UK and recommended that submarines should be purchased from Sweden.

Later, Admiral Saeed Muhammad Khan again formed another team which visited France, Sweden, China and the UK and recommended to the ministry of defence to purchase either the UK-manufactured ‘Uphold’ class submarines or the French  ‘Agosta 90’ class submarines.

He said that the detailed procedure was aimed at reaching a decision to assess the navy’s requirements.

He said that the second team consisted of Rear Admiral AU Khan, SA Mujtaba, Captain Mushtaq, Captain Naqvi, Captain Naveed, Captain Alvi and Captain Khushnud.

The former commodore told the audience that the agreement of purchase of Agosta class submarines was signed on August 21, 1994, during the second tenure of Benazir Bhutto.

“The Pakistan Navy gave its consent to buy the submarines. The government could not have compelled the navy to agree to buy them.”

Replying to a question, Commodore (retd ) Shahid Ashraf said that he was the DG Intelligence in those days. “I was informed that someone called Niaz was going to pay Captain Alvi a sum of $107,000 as part of ‘kickbacks’ on the deal. I went to the house of then Vice-Chief of Naval Staff Admiral AU Khan and provided him all necessary information about the people involved, but he refused to allow me to take any action and said that action should be taken with the permission of the Navy chief, Admiral Mansourul Haq, who was on a visit to France and the US.

He said that he called up Admiral Mansour in France and informed him about the episode and “he advised me to wait until his return home”.

“When he returned, I again told him the entire story. A meeting was held in which all senior officers were present. But this meeting remained inconclusive. After the meeting, Rear Admiral Faseeh Bukhari said to me that I should have ‘caught’ the persons. But I said that my job was to provide information and that he should have got the meeting to decide to arrest the suspects. He got angry and went away.”

When he was asked to comment on Captain Alvi’s allegations regarding receipt of Rs1.5 million, Commodore (retd) Shahid Ashraf refused to comment.

He said that, later, when he learnt that four commodores were “receiving $40,000 each”, the Navy chief, Mansourul Haque, and Vice-Admiral AU Khan advised me to investigate”. The accused deny ever taking any bribes.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 5th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (3)

  • Dec 9, 2010 - 7:26PM

    something is missing,

    the local agents’ DCN international, shall be made part of investigation, IF Admiral Mansur was not involved in any ‘dishonesty’ why there was a plea bargain, and he came back to Pakistan, received all his merits & perks back.

    now mr. Tariq Durrani – sysco Pakistan is pampering his buddy since commander days, CNS Nouman Basheer who is brother to salman basheer the secratry foreign affairs and brother-in-law to ahmed mukhtar the defence minister, for German diesel submarines, amazing isn’t it when the Pakistan have capability to indigenously develop augosta why switching to german tech which is not better then augosta, besides that PN submarine construction can secure export orders and attempt some rework on augosta abilities. R&D is not domain of WEST,

    surely something is not right about who is involved at deal of 90’s and now who is pulling cards for German submarines which are not sold anywhere in Indian ocean region since built but Tariq durrani is slowling getting table tilt for his german masters. Recommend

  • Disgusted
    Jan 9, 2011 - 2:45AM

    The article fails to mention that a PN court martial found Shahid Ashraf guilty of taking kickbacks. He is thus a convicted felon. Leaving out this important fact doesn’t do justice to the officers who are the target of Shahid Ashraf’s false allegations. Recommend

  • Disgusted Too
    Jan 16, 2011 - 1:37PM

    If the news about guilt of Mr. Shahid Ashraf is true then this is just a thief defending another thief.Recommend

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