ISLAMABAD: Minister for Climate Change Senator Mushahidullah Khan on Saturday tendered his resignation, officials said, after a controversial interview with the BBC in which he claimed the country’s former spy chief had conspired to stage a military coup last year.
He cancelled his visit to the Maldives as he was summoned back to the country.
Mushahidullah Khan told the British broadcaster in an interview published online on Friday that the retired head of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI), Lieutenant-General Zaheerul Islam, had plotted to bring down the government of Nawaz Sharif during the sit-in protests in Islamabad in 2014.
Khan said in the BBC interview that Zaheerul Islam had worked to trigger the conflict between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif, and had planned on exploiting the subsequent unrest to take over the country.
The bid failed, he said, when the civilian Intelligence Bureau (IB) — which was tapping some of Zaheerul Islam’s telephone conversations – presented evidence of the plot to the prime minister, who then informed the army chief.
“There were voices of several people in that tape. There was also (the) voice of Zaheerul Islam Abbasi,” Khan had told BBC.
Both the Prime Minister’s office and the military denied the claims soon after the interview was published on Friday, saying no such tapes existed.
“The story about any tape recording as being discussed in the media is totally baseless, unfounded and farthest from truth,” ISPR DG Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa tweeted on Friday evening.
Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Pervaiz Rashid told AFP that Khan, who is currently attending a climate change conference in the Maldives, had sent his resignation to the prime minister after the interview. “Yes, he has sent his resignation from Maldives,” Rashid said.
He said Mushahidullah had been asked for his resignation after his irresponsible conversation in an interview to the foreign media.
Senator Pervaiz Rashid said the PML-N always took a stand on principles. “Mushahidullah, being a committed worker of the PML-N, has honoured the party’s discipline and principles,” he added. Responding to a question, the minister said that the action was necessary as far as the case of Mushahidullah Khan was concerned because an alleged tape, which did not exist at all, was associated with the prime minister.
To another question, the minister said the civil and military leaderships were on the same page to tackle challenges and defeat terrorism. All state institutions were performing their role in accordance with the Constitution, he added.
He said wherever Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif went abroad, the military leadership also visited the country sometimes before and sometimes after his visit. Owing to the effective policies, Pervaiz Rashid said, the international community was acknowledging the services of Pakistan and paying tributes to it. An official of the Ministry of Climate Change said that the prime minister had ordered Khan back from the Maldives and asked him to resign.
“He left for the Maldives on Saturday morning and was called back by the government after the controversy created by his interview,” a senior official in Khan’s office told AFP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to the media. Khan had sent his resignation and was expected back in the country by late Saturday or Sunday, the official said.