LAHORE: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior member and Leader of the Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan warned the federal government from extending Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt General Ahmad Shuja Pasha’s tenure for a third time, urging the army to instead devise a strategy for replacing the agency chief.
“There are a lot of competent generals who are capable for this post and I hope that the Army would devise a strategy on who should replace Pasha,” Nisar said in a press conference in Lahore on Wednesday.
He said that the civilian society along with the PML-N would protest against a possible extension for Pasha, adding that he should be replaced by a competent and capable army general.
Talking to The Express Tribune, PML-N sources said that the party leadership has received a message from the government and Army that Pasha may be awarded an extension for the third time.
Nisar lashed out at the intelligence agency’s suspected role in various activities, including the missing persons cases and allegedly promoting political parties.
Justifying his argument against an extension for him, the opposition leader said that the incumbent had a history of massive intelligence failures.
“During Pasha’s tenure, the nation witnessed massive intelligence failures like the Abbottabad raid, Mumbai tragedy (India), PNS Mehran Base attack, Memogate and the Nato attack on the Salala Checkpost,” adding that, “ It was unfortunate that despite all this, according to Pasha, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani has repeatedly stopped him from resigning, which is strange.”
Nisar said that the PML-N was collecting evidence and working on documents to present in the Supreme Court regarding the ISI’s involvement in ‘promoting’ Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf. Speaking on the government-military rift, he added that six weeks ago, the army had leveled serious allegations against the rulers over the Memogate episode while Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani had leveled allegations against the army, claiming that it had given safe house to al Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad.
Nisar said that PML-N according to its promise would move a resolution in upcoming session of NA on Monday. He read one of the paragraphs from the resolution. According to content, “The house calls upon the government to ensure prevalence of the rule of law and to implement, without further delay, the directions of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and recommendations of the commission on inquiry of enforced disappearances, commission of inquiry concerning the murder of Syed Saleem Shahzad, for enactment of necessary legislation to resolve the problem of missing persons”.
“Besides resolution, PML-N is working on a draft bill to regulate the role of intelligence agencies which would be moved in the assembly,” he said.
Two year retirement extension for CJP
The government intended to extend the upper age limit of retirement of Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) by two years. At present, the retirement age is 65.
Speaking on the infamous missing persons case, Nisar inquired that under which law they (agencies) picked up a person. He added that according to a rough estimate, therewere between 2,000 to 10,000 missing persons in the country.
Nisar also condemned the recent Kohsitan incident and called it the failure of intelligence agencies and PPP’s government. Atleast 18 people, mostly from the Shia community, were shot dead by unknown assailants in the Gilgit-Baltistan area.
He said that PPP and PML-N has signed Charter of Democracy to regulate the rules and regulation regarding intelligence agencies but unfortunately rulers don’t bother to intervene in the affairs of intelligence agencies while Army has decided to remain in distance from the rulers’ affairs.
Nisar said that the government intended to impose Radio tax which PML-N government had abolished in 1997 which was a clear violation of the law. He said that the government’s standing committee cabinet approved this tax as a wireless fee, which will be imposed on those who use mobile phones instead of transistors.
He added that tax could only be imposed through a money bill not through committees. He said that if the PPP government does not refrain from such measures then President Asif Ali Zardari’s address in the parliament would be in danger.
He revealed that the government had planned to place restrictions on some talk shows and comedy shows. Nisar vowed that the PML-N would oppose these restrictions, which the government intended to introduce through PEMRA.
Revolving media fund
He said that government is going to establish a cell comprising marginal segment of the media which would ponder over whom to award aid or not. He said that the Zardari government is planning through this cell to channelise funds to those which applaud the government while rest of the money through a revolving process to utilise it for Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) election campaign.
Nisar claimed that the PML-N had retained its seats and won PPP’s vacated seat with heavy margin.
Nisar lashed out PTI’s chief Imran Khan, challenging him to present himself in a tribunal, exclusively for judging their properties and tax declarations, to clarify any ambiguities. The PML-N senior leader claimed that Khan was a tax defaulter from 1971 to 2001 and had not even paid for his house in Bani Gala, which was declared as a ‘gift’.
He remarked that ironically Khan spared the Awami National Party (ANP), PPP, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and PML-Q and only criticised PML-N’s leadership.
Nisar also hinted at the PTI postponing its Balochistan rally on directions from the ISI.