In a first, ISI chief attends presser to counter Imran’s anti-army tirade

ISLAMABAD: The leader of Pakistan ISI Thursday broke a decades-long tradition of public silence to appear before a presser alongside the head of the army’s media wing and against the former prime minister Imran Khan’s alleged anti-military narrative ahead of his long march from Lahore to Islamabad, starting on Friday.
“I know you are shocked to see me among you, and I can understand your surprise,” Lieutenant General Nadeem Ahmed Anjum began amid a shiver of excitement running through the rally.
“But today is a different day; I am not here for me but for my institution, whose soldiers and officers sacrifice their lives every day for this country. I broke my silence because I saw the countries and our institutions threatened because of the lies that were perpetuated and accepted by young people,” he said.
Lt Gen Anjum, whose appointment as head of the ISI in place of Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed in October last year was resisted by the former Imran-led government, said army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had received “a lucrative offer” in March for an extended stay s’ he was helping the former prime minister defeat the opposition’s no-confidence motion against him at the time. “It (the offer) was made before me. It (Gen Bajwa) rejected it because he wanted the institution (the military) to move from a controversial role to a constitutional role,” the ISI chief said.
Without naming Imran, he said that while everyone was entitled to an opinion, it was intriguing that General Bajwa was called a “traitor” by the very person who praised him.
“If you (Imran) see him as a traitor, then why are you meeting him through the back door? Don’t do this. This is a big contradiction between your words and your actions,” Lt. Gen. Anjum said.
The ISI chief said words like “neutral, jaanwar (animal), Mir Jafar and Mir Sadiq” were used against General Bajwa and the army simply because the institution refused to bow to “its unconstitutional and illegal acts”.
Never before in Pakistan’s checkered history has an ISI leader appeared in public to address the media directly on any issue.
Military spokesman Lt. Gen. Babar Iftikhar said the facts behind Imran’s claim of a foreign conspiracy behind his ousting and the murder of Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya needed to be determined. “As Arshad was an investigative journalist, he had been investigating the so-called conspiracy when it surfaced,” he said. “We need to determine who exactly benefited from his assassination.”
General Iftikhar claimed that on August 5, Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (provincial) government of Imran, Tehreek-i-Insaf, issued a “threat alert” on the instructions of CM Mahmood Khan, claiming that a group Pakistani dissident Tehreek-i-Taliban was seeking to target the journalist.
“No information was shared with the institutions that provided them with the information,” Iftikhar said, adding that this proved the alert was issued with the aim of forcing Arshad to leave the country.
The army spokesman pointed out that the name of Salman Iqbal, CEO of media organization ARY, had surfaced “again and again” about it. “Iqbal should be brought back to Pakistan and be part of the investigation,” he said.


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