Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum and ISPR DG Lt Gen Babar Iftikhar at the press conference.

Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt. Gen. Nadeem Ahmed Anjum has given explosive information against Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan. In an unexpected press conference, he said Imran Khan sought ‘illegal and unconstitutional’ benefits from the military for his government. This is the first time in Pakistan’s history that the head of the country’s intelligence agency addressed the media directly.

The ISI chief joined Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) DG Lt Gen Babar Iftikhar at the press conference to speak against the killing of journalist Arshad Sharif and the conflict with former prime minister Imran Khan, Dawn reported.

At the beginning of the press conference, General Iftekhar said that the purpose of today’s media talk was to shed light on the murder of journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya and the surrounding situation. This press conference is being held in the context of presenting information so as to ‘separate fact, fiction and opinion.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif was ‘specifically informed’ about the sensitivity of the press conference.

Since his ouster in April this year, Imran Khan has been lashing out against the country’s powerful army. Allegedly, the military had plotted to remove him from power and install the opposition.

Anjum said, ‘The reason for criticizing Imran Khan is that the military and its chief refused to do illegal and unconstitutional things. The military decided to stay away from politics, which is why they did not respond to Imran’s one-on-one requests.

While pointing fingers at Imran, the ISI chief did not elaborate on the benefits he claimed. ISI chiefs usually stay a little behind. They are rarely seen in public, let alone press conferences.

Meanwhile, Asad Umar, a leader of Imran’s party Tehreek-e-Insaf, rejected the ISI chief’s allegations. He said that no illegal benefits were sought from the military.

Pakistan’s military is considered the most powerful institution in the country. After independence, the country has been under military rule for more than three decades. Even when civilians are in charge, Pakistan’s security and foreign policy remain in the hands of the military.

Many analysts believe that the military also played a role in Imran’s rise to power in 2018. But in the end it cracks.

The ISI chief also admitted in the press conference that the army has made many mistakes in the past. He said, recently they have taken a decision to stay away from politics institutionally.

In a press conference, military spokesman Lt. Gen. Babar Iftekhar said that the spy chief has made an unprecedented public appearance to respond to the efforts being made to tarnish the military.

Anjum said Imran and Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa recently met each other to defuse ongoing tensions. He said in March, when opposition pressure on Imran’s government was intense, the then prime minister had offered to keep Bajwa as the ‘Army Chief for life’, which was rejected.

(28 October)