ISLAMABAD: The chorus of resignation calls, which were fuelled by some serious allegations against the country’s intelligence chief, has managed to elicit a response – finally.
The military on Wednesday denied that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief visited some Arab countries soon after the May 2 Abbottabad raid to discuss a military coup against the civilian government.
Earlier, on December 13, a blog in the UK daily The Independent, quoted Mansoor Ijaz, the Pakistani-origin American businessman, and self-proclaimed whistleblower in the Memogate scandal, as saying: “Their [US intelligence] information was that Pasha had travelled to a few Arab countries to talk about what the necessary line of action would be in the event that they had to remove Zardari from power, and so forth.”
Calls for resignation
The revelation led to first audible calls for Director General (DG) ISI Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha’s resignation on the parliament floor.
“If Husain Haqqani (Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US) could resign based on mere allegations, why shouldn’t Pasha?” Awami National Party MNA Bushra Gohar questioned.
The call was subsequently supported in principle by Leader of the Opposition in National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali and Haqqani’s counsel and former president Supreme Court Bar Association Asma Jahangir.
Furthermore, Communist Party Chairman Engineer Jamil Ahmed Malik has also recently petitioned the Supreme Court to take action against the ISI chief for allegedly meeting Arab rulers, citing lack of denial or contradiction by Pasha.
The military’s public relations wing finally issued a rebuttal on Wednesday.
False assertions have been attributed to the visit of DG ISI to Arab countries, said a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
“It is clarified that the DG ISI did not meet any Arab leader between May 1 and 9, 2011, as mentioned in the article. The DG ISI’s other visits to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the UAE only, prior to or after this period, were part of routine intelligence sharing activity, during which he interacted with his counterparts only,” the statement said.
It added that contents of the article are ‘strongly and categorically denied.’
A legal notice will also be served to the British newspaper to retract the story, the press release added.
The statement comes a day before the Supreme Court is set to resume hearing of the Memogate scandal, where questions are expected to be raised about Pasha’s visit to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
(Read: Correcting the civil-military imbalance)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 22nd, 2011.