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Ex-ISI DG told me to resign during 2014 sit-ins: Nawaz

Says Lt Gen (retired) Zaheer-ul-Islam even threatened a martial law

SAMAA | - Posted: Sep 30, 2020 | Last Updated: 1 year ago
Posted: Sep 30, 2020 | Last Updated: 1 year ago

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif claimed on Wednesday that former ISI chief Lieutenant General (retired) Zaheer-ul-Islam had asked him to resign “in the middle of the night” during the 2014 anti-government sit-ins.

“I received a message in the middle of the night,” Sharif told PML-N members in the party’s central executive committee meeting. “It was said that 'if you don't do that you will have to face the consequences and martial law can also be imposed'.

“I said… do whatever you want but I won't resign,” Sharif added.

In 2014, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Tahir-ul-Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehreek had staged a 126-day sit-in in Islamabad against alleged rigging of the 2013 elections.

Lt Gen (retired) Islam had served as the ISI chief from March 19, 2012 to November 7, 2014.

This is the first time that Sharif has publicly commented on Islam’s reported plot to overthrow his government.

Related: US ambassador confirmed Zaheer-ul-Islam was active in politics: Shuja Nawaz

In 2015, the then federal minister for climate change Mushahidullah Khan had leveled similar accusations against the former spy chief in an interview with the BBC Urdu service.

Lt Gen (retired) Islam wanted to overthrow the then PML-N government through the sit-ins, Khan had claimed. He was removed from his ministry after this interview.

Author Shuja Nawaz revealed in his 2019 book The Battle For Pakistan that former US ambassador Richard Olson knew that the former ISI DG was “mobilising for a coup” but the then army chief General (retired) Raheel Sharif “blocked” it.

He quoted Ambassador Olson as saying, "We received information that Zahir [-ul-Islam, the DG-ISI] was mobilising for a coup in the September of 2014. [Army chief] Raheel [Sharif] blocked it by, in effect, removing Zahir, by announcing his successor... [Zahir] was talking to the corps commanders and was talking to like-minded army officers ... He was prepared to do it and had the chief been willing, even tacitly, it would have happened. But the chief was not willing, so it didn't happen."

The ISPR, Pakistani military’s media wing, has not responded to the reports or commented on the statements of Sharif, his party members or claims in Shuja Nawaz’s book.

“Army's role in politics”

During his address to party members, Sharif said the country’s parliament has become a “rubber-stamp” parliament.

In 2018, PM Khan’s PTI had won the election but opposition parties never accepted the results. Sharif himself has said a number of times that PM Khan was given power through poll rigging.

“The parliament which we are the members of… how sovereign it is? I have come to know from people that the parliament is being run by someone else,” the former prime minister said. “Forgive me for saying that but our assemblies are compromised.”

The former prime minister also commented on the military’s alleged role in politics. He referred to JUI-F leader Maulana Ghafoor Haideri’s interview with SAMAA TV in which he had claimed that Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had met Maulana Fazlur Rehman and told him to cancel last year’s Azadi March.

“That's not your work, that's not your profession,” Sharif said, referring to the meeting between Fazl and the army chief. “If you didn’t say it then did you contradict it?"
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