• Former premier wants ISI, ISPR chiefs investigated for ‘overstepping’ their roles
• Accuses ‘rogue elements’ in state institutions of abusing citizens
ISLAMABAD: Upping the ante in his confrontation with the country’s powerful military establishment, former prime minister Imran Khan on Monday wrote to his own party leader and supreme commander of the armed forces of Pakistan, President Dr Arif Alvi, demanding an inquiry against two senior military officers for holding a “political presser” and asked him to place limits on the powers of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
In a letter to the president, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman referred to the press conference held by the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum and DG ISPR Lt Gen Babar Iftikhar on Oct 27 and accused them of “deliberately trying to create a false narrative”.
“Two related questions that should also be examined are how the head of Pakistan’s premier Intelligence Agency can do a public press conference; how can two military bureaucrats do a highly political press conference targeting the leader of the largest and perhaps the only federal political party in Pakistan today,” he asked.
He said that ever since the removal of PTI’s government in April and in the wake of growing public support for ‘Haqeeqi Azadi’, the party had been confronted with “an ever increasing scale of false allegations, harassment, arrests and custodial torture”.
Mr Khan alleged that the interior minister had repeatedly issued death threats to him.
“I was informed of a plot to assassinate me having been hatched by PM Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Maj General Faisal DG C ISI. The plot was operationalised earlier during our Long March but Allah saved me and the assassination attempt failed,” he wrote.
Imran Khan appealed to President Alvi that under Article 243 (2) of Constitution he should take note of “serious wrongdoings” that undermined Pakistan’s national security and to institute an inquiry under his leadership to “identify the guilty and hold them accountable”.
“A breach of the Official Secret[s] Act occurred when confidential conversation between myself as PM, the COAS [Chief of Army Staff] and the DG ISI on a supposedly secure line was ‘leaked’ to the media. This raises a very serious question as to who or what organisation was involved in doing a clearly illegal wiretap of the PM’s secure phone line? This is a breach of national security at the highest level,” he stated.
The PTI leader also raised the issue of the controversial cipher, sent by Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, in which an American official allegedly conveyed a “direct threat of regime change” to the envoy who reported the same in quotes.
“The National Security Committee (NSC) meeting held on this issue during my tenure as PM clearly decided this was an unacceptable intrusion into our internal matters and the NSC decided on a demarche to be issued by Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the US envoy in Islamabad. This NSC decision as minuted was reaffirmed by the NSC meeting held under the Shehbaz Sharif government,” he said.
However, Mr Khan pointed out, the DG ISI at the presser contradicted the decision made by the NSC under the two governments, stating that the US government’s message conveyed through the cipher was “not an unacceptable intrusion into our internal affairs but simply a case of misconduct”.
“The question that needs to be examined is how two military bureaucrats can publicly contradict a decision of the NSC? This also raises the serious issue of these military bureaucrats deliberately trying to create a false narrative,” he claimed.
“The parameters of a military information organisation such as the ISPR also need to be clearly defined and limited to information relating to defence and military issues. As Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces I call on you [Mr Alvi] to initiate the drawing up of these clear operational lines for the ISPR,” Mr Khan said.
He also urged Dr Alvi that, being head of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, he must protect its democracy and Constitution.
“No person or State institution can be above the law of the land. We have been seeing a massive abuse of citizens at the hands of rogue elements within State organisations, including custodial torture and abductions all carried out with impunity,” Imran Khan alleged. He urged the president to act “now to stop the abuse of power and violations of our laws and of the Constitution, which ensures the fundamental rights of every citizen”.
Published in Dawn, November 8th, 2022