Nawaz had ‘solid information’ about former ISI chief’s role in dharna

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had “solid information” about the alleged involvement of former DG ISI Lt Gen (retd) Zaheerul Islam in the 2014 ‘Dharna’ show to destabilise the government yet he avoided proceeding against the spymaster to avoid any civil-military tension, it has been learnt.
Credible government sources told The News that the prime minister, in the presence of Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, had directed the-then DG ISI Gen Zaheer to get the situation defused but he did otherwise.
These sources said that the PM had also discussed this situation with the army chief General Raheel Sharif, who unlike the former spymaster has been fully cooperative with the government and did not support any move to destabilise the elected constitutional government.
During those days, some of Nawaz Sharif’s associates had advised him to proceed against Zaheerul Islam but he exercised maximum restraint and remained patient. According to one source, the PM was of the view that his action against Gen Zaheer might increase uncertainty to the advantage of those who wanted to dent the democratic and constitutional rule.
Although, much was speculated by the media including a report saying that the army chief had sought Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation, in reality General Raheel has been fully cooperative in helping to defuse the tension and bringing the situation back to normal.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had recently named the former DG ISI for his alleged role in destabilising the Nawaz Sharif government through the PAT-PTI sit-ins.Khawaja Asif said that General Zaheer had pushed up the ‘London Plan’ conspiracy against the government. In a TV interview, the minister said that the 2014 London Plan against the Nawaz Sharif government was the work of two former ISI chiefs — Lt General (retd) Shuja Pasha and Lt Gen (retd) Zaheerul Islam.
According to the defence minister, Gen Zaheer had a grudge against the
government for its stance on the Geo issue. To settle his personal grudge, Khawaja said, Gen Zaheer had hurt the national interest. Khawaja, however, said that the situation was handled well by the prime minister, who remained patient.
In September last year, Reuters had also reported that weeks of mounting anti-government protests in Pakistan had been enough to convince five of the powerful Lt Generals (believed to have retired now) that it was time for them to step in and force the embattled Nawaz Sharif to resign.
The five corps commanders were though not named by the Reuters, it was claimed that top generals had met in the garrison city of Rawalpindi at the end of August as demonstrations raged in Islamabad.
It was reported, “At the tense four-hour conclave, Pakistan’s democratic process was once again in peril, with the military pondering another intervention in a country that has seen power change hands more often through coups than elections.”
Reuters further said, “But army chief Raheel Sharif decided the time was not right to overthrow the civilian leadership, and moved to quell any disagreement in his ranks by overruling the hawks and declaring the crisis must be solved through politics, not force.”

July 25, 2015


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