Sunday June 23, 2024

Ex-spymaster denies meeting Imran, joining PTI

Pictures of Gen Zaheer addressing a PTI gathering in his hometown in Kahuta went viral on social media

By Ansar Abbasi
June 28, 2022
Former ISI DG Lt-Gen (retd) Zaheerul Islam. Photo: The News/File
Former ISI DG Lt-Gen (retd) Zaheerul Islam. Photo: The News/File

ISLAMABAD: Former ISI DG Lt-Gen (retd) Zaheerul Islam has said that he has neither joined the PTI nor met Imran Khan.

Talking to The News, he said that he had recently held a gathering of the local elders at his house in his native village in Kahuta where the community decided to support the PTI candidate for PP-7 Rawalpindi in the upcoming by-elections.

“It was the decision of the baradari and being part of it, I simply announced the decision,” he said and explained that his presence in the event had been greatly misrepresented by the social media. The former spymaster said that he had not met Imran Khan for the past few years, at least not after he became the prime minister in 2018.

When asked if he could join the PTI in future, he said he could not say anything about the future. Pictures of Gen Zaheer addressing the PTI gathering in his hometown in Kahuta went viral on social media. Many welcomed Gen Zaheer for joining the PTI and sarcastically linked it with the PTI’s 2014 sit-in.

While Fawad Chaudhry denied that Gen Zaheer had joined the PTI, others, including PTI MNA from Murree and Kahuta Sadaqat Abbasi, glorified it by sharing the pictures of the recent PTI event in Kahuta where Zaheer and Sadaqat were seen closely interacting.

In the late 2015, then defence minister Khawaja Asif (who is again holding the same portfolio in the present government) in a television show had named former ISI DG Gen Zaheerul Islam for his alleged role in destabilising the Nawaz government during the 2014 PAT-PTI sit-ins.

Khawaja Asif had said that Gen Zaheer was behind the London Plan conspiracy against the government. What was being discussed earlier in the closed door meetings of the rulers was made public by the defence minister, who said that the 2014 London Plan against the Nawaz government had been the collective work of two successive ISI chiefs — Lt-Gen (retd.) Shuja Pasha and Lt-Gen (retd) Zaheerul Islam.

Pasha and Zaheer had also been accused of secretly sponsoring the PTI to its post-2011 popularity. Gen Zaheer again became a centre of controversy a few years back when Nawaz Sharif had, for the first time, claimed publicly that the former general had conveyed a message to him seeking his resignation “in the middle of the night” during the 2014 anti-government sit-ins.

“I received a message in the middle of the night,” Sharif had told PMLN members in the party’s central executive committee meeting recently. “It was said that if you don’t do it, 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.”

Nawaz Sharif, however, did not name the person who had brought the ISI DG’s message to him. In response to Nawaz’s statement, Gen Zaheer had told The News that he had never sought the resignation of Nawaz Sharif. He had also categorically denied that he had sent any message through any person to Nawaz Sharif.

“I never sent anyone to convey any such message to then prime minister,” he said, adding “this is absolutely wrong.” Gen Zaheer had rather insisted that at every stage during the 2014 sit-in, he had been advising the PMLN government to engage the PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehrik politically to end the protest.