Former DG ISI Lt General (retd) Zaheer-ul-Islam has responded to former PM Nawaz Sharif’s prior statement and said that he did not seek his resignation during the anti-governmental protests in 2014. The News quoted Lt Gen Zaheer-ul-Islam as saying that he never sent any message to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in this regard. “I never sent anyone to convey any such message to the PM,” he said.
The former DG ISI further said that he had instead advised the then government to engage the protesting parties and hold talks with them to end the sit-in. Former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif had recently made headlines by claiming that the then DG ISI Gen Zaheer-ul-Islam had sought his resignation as PM during the protests staged by PTI and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) in 2014.
The former prime minister said this in an apparent reference to the military establishment’s involvement in executive affairs. Prime Minister Imran Khan had also reacted to Sharif’s statement and said that he [Khan] would have fired the DG ISI upon his act of seeking his resignation if he were Nawaz Sharif.
Ex-ISI DG told me to resign during 2014 sit-ins, claims Nawaz
Nawaz Sharif claims that former DG of ISI Zaheerul Islam in 2014 asked him to resign at midnight or face consequences. ISI Chief was planning a coup in Pakistan. pic.twitter.com/tePTeGi3yy
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) September 30, 2020
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif claimed earlier 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 do not do that you will have to face the consequences and martial law can also be imposed” claimed Sharif. “I said, do whatever you want but I will not resign,” Sharif added.
Islam’s plot to overthrow Sharif’s government
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.
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.
The News claims that 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.