By Mati Ullah Khan
Being the third-time Prime Minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif has probably become a farsighted leader who can predict that one member of his ‘highly experienced and reliable team’ is ‘again’ about to push him into a new controversy.
But leaving aside the joke as someone can see the face of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with full of worries and sorrows while attending the Independence Day Ceremony on August 14. Hours later, the BBC broadcasted an interview of the Federal Minister for Climate Change Senator Mushahidullah Khan in which he claimed that the former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Chief retd Lieutenant General Zaheerul Islam was ambitious for a coup during the last year’s sit-ins by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT).
The Senator also claimed that the incumbent government had an audio tape obtained by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) in which the former ISI Chief could be heard giving orders to spread chaos with an ultimate purpose to overthrow the Nawaz Sharif’s government.
However, the government denied existence of any recorded tape of former ISI Chief as alleged by Mushahidullah Khan.
In a statement, a spokesman of PM’s House said that there is nothing in the knowledge of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif regarding any tape which was presented to him by the minister as claimed. The spokesman said that the prime minister had sought an explanation from the minister for his statement in an interview broadcast by BBC.
Separately, the Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed in an interview also rebutted the claim of Mushahidullah. He said that no one had listened to any such tape nor was such tape presented to anyone.
Meanwhile, the Director General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asim Bajwa late Friday night in a tweet termed the tape recording story as “totally baseless, unfounded and farthest from the truth.”
The ISPR Director General said that “such rumours are irresponsible and unprofessional.”
Since more than a year, the government has been alleging that a few elements in Pakistan army especially two former ISI Chiefs Lt General Shuja Pasha and Lt General Zaheerul Islam were involved in conspiracy against the present civilian government and using the PTI and PAT to achieve their vested interests.
But since the PTI Chairman Imran Khan a few weeks ago demanded an inquiry into such allegations against some Pakistan army officials, the government seems to have gone into back foot and describing the accusations made by its multiple ministers on different occasions as their personnel views rather than a party policy.
The embarrassment caused by Mushahidullah’s interview to BBC for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif didn’t happen for the first time. In late August last year, Nawaz Sharif also faced the same kind of situation when after being briefed by his top cabinet members, he lied on the floor of the National Assembly, saying it was Imran Khan and Dr Tahirul Qadri who requested the federal government to arrange a meeting between the army chief General Raheel Sharif and them.
However, later the Director ISPR tweeted that it was the government which asked the army chief to play a facilitative role for resolution of current policies impasse.
Even in 1999, it was same Mushahidullah Khan and Mushahid Hussain Syed whose bad advices to Nawaz Sharif led to the overthrow of his government.
The PTI Chief Imran Khan is accused of making baseless accusations against his opponents which somewhat has also been proved following the Judicial Commission report. But in reality, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is not different.
Being in the government but yet only leveling allegations and not launching any probe seems ridiculous and doesn’t favour the PML-N at all. In addition, since the government has to deal with numerous challenges from terrorism to Kasur child sex abuse scandal, the PML-N must show political maturity and prove itself as it claims to be a party of ‘highly experienced, visionary and mature’ people.