Benazir took advantage of this fiasco, which was the creation of Lt Gen Gul, to have him replaced as the Chief of the ISI by Maj Gen Shamshur Rehman Kallue, a retired officer, who was close to her father and had been very loyal to the Bhutto family. After taking over, Kallue abolished the political division of the ISI, then headed by Brig Imtiaz. It was responsible for keeping a watch on Pakistani political leaders and civilian bureaucrats and also for assisting the Khalistan movement.
On the advice of Lt Gen Gul, Nawaz Sharif, who was then the chief minister of Punjab, took Imtiaz into the Special Branch of the Punjab police to continue the ISI’s operation for assisting the Khalistani movement. Lt Gen. Gul had a message sent to all Khalistani leaders that in future they should contact Imtiaz in the Punjab Special Branch for any assistance and not Kallue.
Lt Gen Gul also leaked to Nawaz Sharif and some members of the media the information about the handing over of four Sikh deserters to India. He did not admit that he did it. He alleged that Benazir, who was in close touch with Rajiv Gandhi, did it despite his strong opposition. There was a big campaign mounted by the Pakistan Muslim League, then headed by Nawaz Sharif, against her on this issue.
Lt Gen Gul also told her detractors that Kallue, on her orders, had handed over to R&AW some files of the ISI on the Khalistani leaders. Benazir Bhutto was accused of being an R&AW agent and of betraying the Khalistan movement. Embarrassed by these allegations, Benazir asked Kallue for the files relating to Lt Gen Gul’s meetings with Verma. After checking, he reported to her that there were no papers on the subject in the ISI headquarters.
Benazir’s close friendship with Rajiv Gandhi, her alleged links with R&AW and her alleged betrayal of the Khalistan movement were some of the secret charges used by Ghulam Ishaq Khan, the then President, to dismiss her in August 1990, at the instance of Gen Beg and Lt Gen Gul.
Towards the end of 1990, Chandra Shekhar took over as the Prime Minister of India, with the support of the Congress, after VP Singh lost a vote of confidence in the Lok Sabha. He took Vidya Charan Shukla, formerly of the Congress, as his foreign minister. Through an intermediary, Rajiv Gandhi had a message conveyed to Chandra Shekhar about the meetings between Hamid Gul and Verma held at the initiative of Crown Prince Hassan and the progress made on the Siachen issue.
Rajiv Gandhi suggested to Chandra Shekhar that this dialogue should be revived. Chandra Shekhar agreed and took up the matter with Nawaz Sharif, who had in the meanwhile taken over as the newly-elected Prime Minister of Pakistan. After some weeks, Nawaz Sharif replied through a diplomat of the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi that there were no papers on this subject in the ISI and on being contacted, Lt Gen Gul totally denied having met Verma and discussed any issue with him. We were totally surprised by Gul’s denial.
R&AW prepared a summary of the discussions at the two meetings at Amman and Geneva and sent it to Nawaz Sharif through the Pakistani High Commission in New Delhi. He was also told that if he had any doubts in view of Gul’s denial, he could check with Hassan, who had organised the dialogue.
Nawaz Sharif agreed to the resumption of the dialogue and a third meeting was held in Singapore between Lt Gen Assad Durrani, the then chief of the ISI, and GS Bajpai, the then chief of R&AW. Nothing came out of it. Durrani kept levelling allegations of R&AW’s interference in Sindh. It was a dialogue of the deaf. There ended the hopes of co-operation.