Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, in a letter dated Nov. 6, has urged President Arif Alvi to “clearly” define and limit the parameters of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) to information related to defense and military issues, while also seeking a halt to “violations of our laws” that ensure the fundamental rights of citizens.
Alleging that the PTI had faced harassment and “fake arrests” since being ousted from power, Khan urged the president to exercise his powers as the “Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces under Article 243(2) of the Constitution” to take notice of “wrongdoings” that undermined Pakistan’s national security. He also requested an inquiry led by the president to identify all guilty and hold them accountable.
Without offering any evidence for his allegations, Khan’s letter accuses Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah of threatening him with death and reiterates claims of last week’s shooting on his long march being orchestrated by the minister, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Maj. Gen. Faisal Naseer of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). “The plot was operationalized earlier this week during our long march but Allah saved me and the assassination attempt failed,” he wrote, listing three points he believes should be investigated.
According to the ousted prime minister, the Official Secrets Act was breached when a “confidential conversation between myself as prime minister, the Chief of Army Staff and the director general of the ISI, on a supposedly secure line, was ‘leaked’ to the media.” It is unclear which leak Khan is referring to, as no conversation between these three has thus far emerged in the media. Of the audio leaks attributed to Khan are conversations between him and his principal secretary; and him and other leaders of the PTI.
“This raises a very serious question as to who or what organization was involved in doing a clearly illegal wiretap of the P.M.’s secure phone line? This is a breach of national security at the highest level,” he added.
Secondly, per Khan, the DG ISI and the DG ISPR had “publicly” contradicted the views of two National Security Committee meetings over the diplomatic cipher that he claims “proves” a foreign regime change conspiracy. Recalling that the NSC had described the cipher’s contents as an “unacceptable intrusion” in Pakistan’s internal affairs that merited a demarche, he claimed a joint press conference of the military officials on Oct. 27 had contradicted this by describing it as misconduct.
“The question that needs to be examined is how two military bureaucrats can publicly contradict a decision of the NSC? This also raises the serious issue of these military bureaucrats deliberately trying to create a false narrative,” he wrote, adding that it should also be examined how the ISI chief was permitted to address a public press conference, and how two military officials could stage a “highly political press conference” targeting him and his party.
In their press conference, the DG ISI and DG ISPR had described Khan’s narrative over the diplomatic cipher as “lies,” stressing that no evidence had been found of any conspiracy. Rather, they said, it had been recommended that the diplomat’s advice to issue a demarche should be pursued. The DG ISPR also said that it had been left to the PTI-led government whether to make public the ISI’s findings, but it had decided against it. However, they did not contradict the findings of the two NSC meetings.
“The parameters of a military information organization such as the ISPR also need to be clearly defined and limited to information relating to defense and military issues,” wrote Khan. “As supreme commander of the armed forces, I call on you to initiate the drawing up of these clear operational lines for the ISPR,” he added.
The PTI chief concluded his letter by urging the president to protect Pakistan’s democracy and Constitution. “No person or state institution can be above the law of the land. We have been seeing a massive abuse of citizens at the hands of rogue elements within state organizations, including custodial torture and abductions all carried out with impunity,” he claimed. “You hold the highest office of state and I am requesting you to act now to stop the abuse of power and violations of our laws and of the Constitution, which ensures the fundamental rights of every citizen,” he added.