Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari and caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi on Sunday condemned Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan for levelling allegations a serving Army official, stressing his remarks were akin to an attack on the institution.
A day earlier, while addressing a rally in Lahore, Khan had alleged that Maj. Gen. Faisal Naseer, a senior official of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), had tried to assassinate him twice. “He is also involved in the killing of [anchor] Arshad Sharif and stripped my party’s senator, Azam Swati, naked and inflicted severe torture on him,” he continued. “This man [Naseer] has been involved in atrocities against my party persons for the last 20 months but no one at his institution is bothered about it. No person who loves Pakistan can do what this man is doing,” he added, indirectly accusing Army chief Gen. Asim Munir of ignoring Maj. Gen. Naseer’s alleged excesses.
Responding to these remarks—which were widely reported on in neighboring India—the prime minister said Khan’s “act of routinely maligning and threatening Pakistan Army and Intelligence Agency for the sake of petty political gains” was highly condemnable. “His levelling of allegations without any proof against Gen. Faisal Naseer and officers of our Intelligence Agency cannot be allowed and will not be tolerated,” he added.
Separately, former president Zardari issued a statement in which he did not directly name Khan but made clear that his remarks were crossing all limits to defame Pakistan’s institutions. “The attempt to discredit institutions has exposed the true face of the man and now enough is enough,” he said. “After listening to the foreign agent’s speech, no patriot can even think of following him,” he said, adding that the allegations against “brave and distinguished officers” of the armed forces was “actually an attack on the institution with which the whole of Pakistan stands.”
He added: “A person is fooling his innocent workers with lies and deceit, I see the downfall of this person.”
Also on Sunday, the interim Punjab chief minister—who Khan has also accused of a role in his ouster as prime minister through a vote of no-confidence—maintained that the caretaker government would not permit anyone to humiliate or threaten institutions and intelligence agencies in the province.
In a posting on Twitter, he said it was the government’s “foremost responsibility as responsible Pakistani citizens to condemn these elements who are actually benefiting enemies of Pakistan.” He stressed that the provincial government would ensure that the law would take its course and all culprits would be held accountable as per law.