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Nawaz seeks explanation from Mushahidullah over BBC interview

Updated Aug 15, 2015 12:51am

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday sought an explanation from senior cabinet member and minister for climate change, Senator Mushahidullah Khan, over an interview the latter gave to BBC Urdu, in which he alleged that former Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt. Gen Zaheerul Islam Abbasi wanted to overthrow Pakistan’s civil and military leadership during last year’s sit-ins by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek.

In his interview, Mushahidullah alleged that during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s meeting with army chief Gen Raheel Sharif on July 28, 2014, an audio tape was played in which Lt. Gen Zaheerul Islam could be heard giving orders to ransack the PM House and spread chaos.

The tape, claimed the federal minister, was obtained by officials of the civilian intelligence agency – Intelligence Bureau.

On hearing the audio tape, Gen Raheel summoned the ISI chief to the meeting and played the tape in front of him, said Mushahidullah. When Zaheerul Islam confirmed that the voice was his own, the army chief asked him to leave, claimed Mushahidullah in his interview with BBC.

Taking notice of the minister’s statements, the PM House issued a news release, asking Mushahidullah Khan to explain his remarks. The release also said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has never heard such an audio tape, nor is he aware of its existence.

Meanwhile Federal Information Minister Pervez Rashid, while talking to DawnNews, said he had been with the prime minister during the dharna days last year, adding that he could state with assurance that “no such incident had taken place,” referring to claims of the audio tape being played in Nawaz's meeting with Gen Raheel.

Rashid said Mushahidullah's claims were far from the truth and labelled them as “made up.”

Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asim Bajwa late Friday night said in a tweet that “the story about any tape recording as being discussed in media is totally baseless, unfounded and farthest from the truth.”

The chief of army's media wing went on to say that “such rumours are irresponsible and unprofessional.”

Meanwhile, Senator Mushahidullah Khan, while talking to DawnNews, downplayed his claims, saying that he had never heard the audio recording himself and was told about it by “other sources.” He said he had clarified in his interview that he had himself not heard any audio tape.

The senator said his interview with the BBC was almost a week old and questioned the motives behind releasing it on Independence Day. He said he had given the same explanation to the premier over a telephone call.