ISLAMABAD: In a rare move, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan wrote to President Dr Arif Alvi for clearly defining the parameters of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) and limiting it to dissemination of information only relating to the defence and military issues.
“The parameters of a military information organisation, such as the ISPR [Inter-Services Public Relations], need to be clearly defined and limited to information relating to defence and military issues,” the former premier said, adding, “As supreme commander of the armed forces, I call on you to initiate drawing up of clear operational lines for the ISPR.”
He also called upon the president to hold an inquiry into the alleged leak of confidential conversation between the then prime minister Imran Khan, the army chief and the director general (DG) of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), as well as the cipher issue.
The letter, a copy of which is available with this correspondent, and carries Nov 6, 2022 date, details the events, unfolding before and after the ouster of the PTI government through a no-confidence vote. He alleged that his party had been confronted with an ever-increasing scale of false allegations, harassment, arrests and custodial torture.
The interior minister, he charged, had repeatedly issued death threats to him and he was informed of a plot to assassinate him, hatched by PM Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and a senior official. The plot was operationalised earlier this week during the PTI long march, but Allah saved him and the assassination attempt failed, he added.
Imran said, “Appeal to the President today is not just as the head of the State of Pakistan but also as the supreme commander of the armed forces under Article 243 (2) of our Constitution to take note of the serious wrongdoings that undermine Pakistan’s national security and to institute an inquiry under your leadership to identify the guilty and hold them accountable”.
The letter said:
“1. A breach of the Official Secrets Act occurred when confidential conversation between myself as PM, the COAS 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.
“2. The issue of the cipher sent by our ambassador to the US in which the US official conveyed a direct threat of regime change to our envoy, who reported the same in quotes as was conveyed to him.
“The 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 the MoFA to the US envoy in Islamabad. “This NSC decision as ‘minuted’ was reaffirmed by the NSC meeting held under the Shehbaz Sharif government.
“In view of this, he noted a joint press conference held on 27 October 2022 by the DG ISI and the DG ISPR that had the former contradicting the decision made by the NSC under two governments and stating that the message of the US government conveyed by our envoy in Washington DC in the cipher was not an unacceptable intrusion into our internal affairs but simply a case of ‘misconduct’.”
The PTI chairman said, “The question that needs to be examined is how two military bureaucrats could publicly contradict a decision of the NSC? This also raises the serious issue of these military bureaucrats 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 and 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?”
“Mr President, you are the Head of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and you must protect its democracy and its Constitution. No person or State institution can be above the law of the land.
“We have been seeing a massive abuse of citizens... including custodial torture and abductions all carried out with impunity. You hold the highest Office of State and I am requesting you 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,” he concluded.
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The reference was filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan in November