Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan offered Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa an extension in March, which was declined, revealed Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) General Nadeem Anjum.
The revelation was made during an unprecedented press conference held on Thursday where the DG ISI joined the DG Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) General Babar Iftikhar. At the press conference the two took questions from journalists in the audience in a rare move.
DG ISI said that last year the military decided to restrict itself to a purely Constitutional role, despite facing a lot of ‘pressure’ for the contrary.
He claimed that if General Bajwa had wanted, he could have lived out his last couple of months as the army chief ‘very comfortably’, but he ‘sacrificed that comfort’ to put the country’s best interest forward.
Gen Nadeem Anjum also revealed that in March, a ‘very lucrative’ offer was made to the COAS, by the then-PTI government, who offered him an extension. “It was made in front of me. He rejected it because he wanted the institution to move forward from a controversial role to a constitutional role,” he said.
Midnight meetings between Gen Bajwa and Imran Khan took place
The country’s spymaster also confirmed that Imran Khan had met the army chief at night to conduct backdoor talks. He asked the PTI chief why he was labelling the COAS a traitor now, when in the past he was full of praise for him.
“If you see him as a traitor, then why do you meet him through the back door? How can you meet [the army chief] quietly at night through the back door to express your unconstitutional wishes, but then call him a traitor in broad daylight. That’s a big contradiction between your words and your actions,” he stated.
ARY News promoted propaganda about the cypher
The DG ISPR said that the army had alerted former prime minister Imran Khan about the cypher’s existence on March 11, to which the former premier had reportedly said it was ‘no big deal’.
“It was surprising for us when on March 27 a piece of paper was waved and an attempt was made to build a narrative that was far from reality,” he said regarding the PTI’s regime-change conspiracy.
He claimed that Arshad Sharif and other journalists were fed a narrative in an attempt to defame Pakistan, and that ARY News played the role of a ‘spin doctor’ by targeting the army and promoting a ‘false narrative’ and ‘biased propaganda’.
“The word ‘neutral’ and ‘apolitical’ was turned into an abuse. To all this baseless narrative, the army chief and the institution showed restraint and we tried our level best that politicians sit together to resolve their issues,” he said.
Gen Iftikhar also said that although Arshad Sharif was also involved in making serious allegations against the army during this time, they ‘did not have negative feelings’ towards him then, nor do they now.
Threat letter regarding Arshad Sharif issued by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government
Gen Iftikhar revealed that the KP government had issued a threat letter on August 5, indicating that a faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) intended to attack Arshad Sharif. Therefore on the orders of KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, a threat letter was drafted, with the alleged goal of getting Arshad Sharif to leave the country.
“In this regard, no info was shared with the institutions who provided them the information,” he said, adding that Arshad Sharif did not want to leave the country, but he was constantly being reminded of how his life was in danger in Pakistan.
Salman Iqbal should be made a part of the judicial probe
The DG ISPR revealed that when ARY News head Ammad Yousaf was arrested, it was discovered that Salman Iqbal had asked him to send Arshad Sharif abroad as soon as possible.
The slain journalist’s ticket for Dubai had also been booked by an ARY Group manager, and the KP government gave him complete protocol to exit Pakistan from Peshawar, it was revealed. Gen Babar said that Sharif had a return ticket for September 9, but ultimately left the UAE for Kenya when his visa expired.
He asked who had processed his bookings in UAE, who had arranged his accommodation and prevented him from returning to Pakistan, and who had assured him that he would be safe in Kenya.
DG ISPR also said that ARY News owner Salman Iqbal’s name was coming up repeatedly. “He should be brought back to Pakistan and made part of the probe,” he said, adding that it needs to be determined who exactly is benefitting from the killing of Sharif.