The Israeli secret agency Mossad most probably killed Gen. Zia ul- Haq, suspects John Gunther Dean, who was the American ambassador to India in 1988, according to an article in the latest issue of World Policy Journal by Barbara Crossette, who was the South Asia Bureau Chief of the New York Times from 1988 to 1991.

When Dean expressed his views to the State Department at the time and insisted on a thorough investigation of the Israeli-Indian axis, he was accused of mental imbalance and relieved of his duties.

Dean was a distinguished diplomat who has garnered more ambassadorships than most envoys. He had strong opinions and years of valuable experience. As an independent thinker, he often had problems being a good "diplomat".

Dean believes that the Israelis wanted to stop Pakistan's military from making nuclear weapons. They had attacked Iraq's nuclear facilities at Osirak in 1981 and believed Zia when he declared in 1987 that Pakistan was a "screwdriver's turn away from the bomb".

Dean, now 80, has remained silent for nearly 20 years but is now collecting his papers and is ready to share his thoughts. He was declared mentally unfit for demanding an investigation into the aircrash. He lost his medical clearance and security clearance because of his views and was forced to seek retirement in 1988.

After he made the charge following the aircrash in which the then US ambassador to Pakistan, Arnie Raphel was also killed with Zia, he was sent to Switzerland to "rest" for six weeks and only then allowed to return to New Delhi to pack his bags and quit.

He is now opening the case because he wants to clear the charge of "mental imbalance" and ask the questions that have long remained buried about the aircrash that killed Zia.

Dean says that when he was ambassador to India, various pro-Israel Congressmen and other US policymakers constantly asked him why he wasn't cooperating with the Israelis to thwart Pakistan's nuclear program and demonize Pakistan.

He says he was asked to persuade the Indians to be more pro-Israel too. He is on record as having alleged that the Israelis tried to kill him in 1980 when he was US ambassador to Lebanon because he disagreed with Israeli policies. He was accused of being "pro-Palestinian" in the Israeli Knesset (Parliament).

The US did not allow the FBI or any other agency to carry out a full-fledged investigation into the crash.