Insinuations regarding Shaukat Tarin by journalist Shaheen Sehbai, others baseless propaganda: ISPR

Published June 9, 2022
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Babar Iftikhar. – ISPR/File
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Babar Iftikhar. – ISPR/File

The military's media wing on Wednesday rejected claims made by journalist Shaheen Sehbai insinuating that PTI Senator Shaukat Tarin was asked to switch sides and abandon the PTI-led government at the centre.

Former finance minister Tarin also said he was never asked by "anyone in the establishment" to "leave" PTI Chairman Imran Khan, whose term as prime minister came to an unceremonious end in April.

"I categorically deny what has been attributed to me by Shaheen Sehbai. I was never asked by anyone in the establishment to leave Imran Khan and join [the] Shehbaz Sharif government," he said on Twitter.

Tarin's tweet appears to be a rebuttal to an early morning tweet by Sehbai, in which the latter had said: "NEUTRAL EXPOSED: I am going to write soon about WHY the Chief Neutral, proved by Shaukat Tarin as Non-Neutral as he asked Tarin to betray Imran Khan and help Shehbaz, is so sensitive and DEAD SCARED about his remaining four months in office. Something fishy, intriguing, alarming, unpatriotic."

Sehbai, however, in his tweet did not mention if Tarin was asked to resign or by whom.

The word neutral, used frequently by Imran Khan and his party, is now widely read as a reference to the military, which has been consistently claiming that it remained apolitical and had nothing to do with the mechanics of the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan. However, since Imran's ouster, the army leadership has come under criticism on social media platforms.

Meanwhile, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) also took exception to Sehbai's remarks, calling them "baseless propaganda".

"The insinuations by Shaheen Sehbai and some others on social media quoting the former finance minister are baseless propaganda," a statement issued less than two hours after Tarin's tweet said. "The same has also been duly rebutted by Shaukat Tarin himself."

"Peddling malicious allegations and blatant lies against the institution and its leadership to promote vested interests is condemnable and [the] institution reserves the right to take legal action against those involved," it concluded.

Sehbai, in response, said Tarin himself had broken the news of being asked to assist the coalition government in dealing with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In May, Tarin had claimed that the PML-N-led coalition government sought his expertise to lift the crumbling economy, saying he refused to do so until a caretaker setup was installed and fresh elections were announced by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

“Yes they [the current government leaders] did,” Tarin had said when asked during a press conference whether any request had been made by the leaders of the new coalition government for help to boost the economy.

“But I have made it very clear that I cannot do that. We believe that the time has come for fresh elections and if elections are called immediately and a caretaker setup is put in place, I will be there for any help,” the former finance minister had said.

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