ISPR rejects BBC report on events at PM House, calls it 'totally baseless and a pack of lies'
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Sunday rejected the contents of a story published by BBC Urdu on what allegedly took place at the Prime Minister House on Saturday night, terming it to be "totally baseless and a pack of lies".
In a statement, the military's media affairs wing branded the story "typical propaganda" lacking "any credible, authentic and relevant source" and claiming that it "violates basic journalistic ethos".
"There is no truth in the fake story whatsoever and clearly seems part of an organised disinformation campaign. The matter is being taken up with BBC authorities," the statement concluded.
The story in question supposedly recounts the events leading up to the ouster of Imran Khan as prime minister.
Editorial: Back to the pavilion
According to the article, Parliament House was abuzz with activity during the day as the National Assembly was in session. However, it claimed that this activity shifted to the PM House once the session was adjourned for Iftar.
The report said that Imran had convened an emergency meeting of his cabinet — summoning his legal and political advisers, the NA speaker and deputy speaker and several bureaucrats — where it was decided that the "threat letter" would be shown to a select few officials.
The story alleged that "two uninvited guests" reached PM House, with an extraordinary security detail, via helicopter and held a 45-minute private meeting with Imran.
The biggest claim in the story — made by quoting government sources — said that the meeting was less than pleasant. "Just an hour ago, former prime minister Imran Khan had given orders to remove one of the senior officials present for the meeting," the story alleged, without taking any names.
It went on to say that the sudden arrival of the guests was "unexpected" for the former premier, adding that Imran was instead expecting the arrival of his "newly appointed officials".
The story alleged that the necessary notifications for the removal and the new appointment were not issued by the Ministry of Defence. "Even if the removal was carried out on the prime minister's orders, preparations had been made to declare it null and void," the BBC report said.
The story also talked about how the doors of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) were open late at night to take up a petition asking the court to restrain Imran from possibly de-notifying Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Bajwa.
The urgent petition — which was filed but never fixed for hearing — said that Imran, for political and personal purposes, had misused his powers and recommended the removal of the Chief of Army Staff, urging the court to quash the order in public interest, the report said.
"It is important to mention that while the petition was prepared, the space for the number of the notification regarding the army chief's dismissal was left blank. The reason for this was that despite the prime minister's request, the notification could not be issued and there was no need for a hearing," the report concluded.
Petition filed in IHC
Late last night, a petition was filed in the IHC, asking the court to restrain Prime Minister Imran Khan from de-notifying General Qamar Jawed Bajwa as the chief of army staff. The petition was filed but never fixed for hearing as government ministers vehemently denied having any such plans in place.
The petition, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, was filed by Advocate Adnan Iqbal under Article 199 of the Constitution and mentioned the Federation of Pakistan, Government of Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan, President Dr Arif Alvi, Ministry of Law and the secretary of the Ministry of Defence as respondents.
Iqbal said he was filing the petition to "uphold the enforcement and mandatory constitutional provision with regard to identification of term" of the COAS.
The petition was a pre-emptive measure to restrain the premier from "using his arbitrary power" to recommend the army chief's approval before the expiry of his term for "personal and political motive".
No such notification was issued by the prime minister.
The petition raised a number of questions: whether the approval of the cabinet was obtained for the issuance of any such supposed notification; whether the prime minister had "unfettered powers" to remove the COAS when he had recommended his appointment and in the "absence of any cogent reason for altering the earlier recommendation"; and lastly whether the premier could remove the army chief for "furtherance of political interests".
It also drew the attention of the court towards the observations of the Supreme Court during suo motu hearings of the National Assembly's dissolution and its verdict on Thursday whereby it said that any order passed by the prime minister or president would be subject to the order of the apex court.
Meanwhile, federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had denied that the government had taken any step to remove the army chief, terming such reports "baseless".
"The government fully understands the importance of the army chief and Pakistan Army as an institution. Reports that anyone is even thinking of changing the leadership of Pakistan Army are baseless rumours and lies. This is being done under an agenda. The government condemns these rumours and completely denies them," the minister wrote on Twitter.
The development followed a lengthy impasse over a no-confidence motion to oust the premier as the National Assembly was adjourned four times before the vote was finally held around midnight.