In response to the unexpected presser of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general (DG) and Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) DG, the entire leadership of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) came forward to clear the situation moments after the rare press conference in Rawalpindi.
Party’s Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Secretary General Asad Umar, senior leaders Chaudhry Fawad, Dr Shireen Mazari, Hammad Azhar and Musarrat Jamshed Cheema held a hurriedly called press conference to respond to the army leadership.
Earlier, PTI Chairman Imran Khan was himself supposed to address the presser at the Chief Minister’s Secretariat but the plan was changed at the eleventh hour and Khan sent his kitchen cabinet to respond to the ISI DG. It is worth mentioning here that the chief of spy agency alleged in a clear reference to Imran Khan that he had held secret meetings with the army chief to present his unconstitutional demands.
“Yes, we held meetings with the military leadership but there wasn’t any unconstitutional demand that we made,” said Asad Umar. “You have very much influence over the political system and we just asked you to play your role to resolve this political crisis,” said Asad Umar. “It is what we demanded in our meetings with the army leadership and what’s wrong in it?” he questioned. He went on to say that it was the constitutional right of Imran Khan to criticise the army and he did it only for the betterment of the institution and the country. He added that Pakistan lost half of its part as the majority verdict of people was crushed. “We must respect the people’s verdict,” he added.
Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that the PTI always respected the institutions and “we believe that a strong army is the need of Pakistan” at the moment. Talking about the political instability in the country, he said that it all started from the days of no-trust motion and its only solution was calling the general elections. “We didn’t craft any narrative which is against Pakistan. The cipher was a reality and therefore the meetings of National Security Committee were called,” he said, rebutting the ISI DG who said that there was nothing in the cipher as repeatedly claimed by Imran. Elaborating on the purpose of the long march, Qureshi said that it would revolve around only one-point agenda and it was to hold free and fair elections.
Senior PTI leader Chaudhry Fawad said that he was in a shock after the joint presser of the ISI and ISPR DGs. “We respond when Kh Asif or Rana Sanaullah hold press conferences. How can we respond to an institution when the presser is held by its bigwigs,” Fawad said. He added that if the respect of army was necessary then the respect of political leadership should also be ensured.
Dr Shireen Mazari said that the ISPR DG distorted facts by saying that there was no threat to journalist Arshad Sharif. “I was in contact with Arshad and he told me that his life was in danger, as paid assassins were behind him,” she claimed. She also criticized the press conference of the ISI DG, saying she never saw any intelligence chief hold such pressers.