By Sardar Khan Niazi
Since the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan’s ouster in a contentious vote of no confidence in April, the political environment in Islamabad stands full of chaos, as he has repeatedly blamed the PDM leadership for conspiring with the army and the United States to remove him.
Lt. Gen. Nadeem Anjum, chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has dismantled the PTI’s post-ouster narrative. He said the PTI chief offered the Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa an indefinite extension apparently in return for thwarting the vote of no confidence.
“Calling someone a traitor, or Mir Jaffar or Mir Sadiq without proof cannot be condemned enough. It is an allegation that is one hundred percent based on lies,” he remarked.
Speaking further about the offer of an indefinite extension, the ISI chief Lt. Gen. Nadeem Anjum said the offer to the Chief of Army Staff took place in my presence. General Qamar Bajwa rejected it because he wanted the institution to move forward from a controversial role to a constitutional role.
He said the former prime minister Imran Khan met the Chief of Army Staff in the night and then called him a “traitor” in the morning. If the commander-in-chief of the Pakistan Army was a traitor then why did he meet him behind the curtain, he questioned.
Lt. Gen. Babar Iftikhar, the director general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) also addressed the press conference along with the ISI chief saying the purpose of his talk is to shed light on Arshad Sharif’s killing and the circumstances surrounding it.
“This press conference is being held in the context of presenting facts so that facts, fiction, and opinion can be differentiated,” he said. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who just returned from a state visit to Saudi Arabia, had a full briefing about the sensitivity of the press conference, he added.
The chief military spokesperson said there was a need to examine how a false narrative has been made and people have been misled about the assassination. Institutions, leadership, and even the army chief himself have been accused without a reason to create an extraordinarily chaotic situation,” said Lt. Gen. Iftikhar.
“Facts linked with the cipher and Arshad Sharif’s death need to be probed, so there is no ambiguity left in this regard,” said the director-general of ISPR. Disclosing how the cipher issue began, he said the Chief of Army Staff had discussed it with Imran Khan on March 11 after which the latter had termed it to be not a big issue.
“It was surprising for us when on March 27 a piece of paper was waved and an attempt was made to build a narrative that was far from reality. Several facts regarding the cipher revealed the baseless and unfounded narrative surrounding it. There was no proof regarding the conspiracy against the PTI government,” he said.
“The ISI also did not find any evidence regarding the conspiracy. This is all part of the record. We wanted to bring this to the public, and we left the decision to the then government. This did not happen and long marches were held in order to gain political mileage by targeting the Pakistan Army.
“Unfortunately, Arshad Sharif and other journalists were fed a particular narrative in an attempt to defame Pakistan and the country’s institutions across the world. In the media trial, a certain TV channel played a negative role by targeting the army and promoting a false narrative. It also presented the NSC meeting in the wrong context,” he added.
In my view, it would have been better if Imran Khan had set his priorities right by taking conflicts to the parliament, not on the roads.