Word ‘conspiracy’ not included in NSC statement: DG ISPR

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Army has no role in politics; Gen Bajwa not seeking extension in tenure; Imran approached army chief to find a solution to political crisis; Pakistan’s nuclear assets aren’t associated to any one political leadership

Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Major General Babar Iftikhar said on Thursday that the word “conspiracy” was not used in the statement issued after a meeting of the National Security Committee last month.

He was answering a question by a journalist after a press conference on the recently held formation commanders conference at the General Headquarters. The journalist had asked the army leadership’s stance on Imran Khan’s claim of a foreign conspiracy to oust him and whether the NSC had endorsed such a claim.

“As far as military response about the NSC meeting is considered, that stance, in that meeting was fully given, and then a statement was issued … which clearly says what was concluded in that meeting.

“The words used are in front of you … as I said … the words used are clear. Is there any word such as conspiracy used in it? I think not.” Gen Iftikhar said the minutes of the NSC meeting can be declassified if the government decides.

He added that the cipher from the Pakistan ambassador to the US was also received by the ISI and it briefed the NSC based on that cable.

“Whatever happened during the last few days, is not part of the constitutional process? It is not the army’s place to offer someone an NRO.”

The ISPR DG explained that demarches were given, not just on conspiracies, but for many reasons. “In this case it was given for undiplomatic language and is equal to interference.” The SOPs of such a cable, he continued, was that these ciphers were in the domain of the Foreign Office. “These are top secret documents and there is some circulation depending on which institution they’re related to. When institutions get such cables, the FO begins work if there is something on national security in them.” Talking about the role of the armed forces in the country’s politics, Babar said the army has “nothing to do with politics” and said the institution has decided to remain apolitical in the future as well. “A better word than neutral is apolitical for describing our role,” said the army spokesperson.”

Meanwhile, in response to a question regarding the army’s role in politics, the ISPR DG revealed that the former prime minister had approached the army chief to help find a solution to the political crisis.

“It is unfortunate that our political leadership was not ready to talk. So the army chief and DG ISI went to the PMO and three scenarios were discussed,” he said, recalling that one was that the no-confidence motion should be held as it was. The other were that the prime minister resigns or the no-confidence motion was retracted and the assemblies were dissolved. “No option from the establishment was given,” Gen Iftikhar clarified.

The ISPR DG rubbished rumours circulating on social media about the establishment meeting opposition parties. “There is no truth to this,” he asserted.

“I heard these things … investigative journalism has progressed a lot. If someone has evidence, bring it forward. There were no such contacts, no deal… For Gods’ sake, there is nothing like this,” he said, further refuting BBC’s story on the army chief meeting Imran Khan on the night of April 9.

“I said it that day, too, that whatever political process has run, army had no role or interference at any stage.”

The ISPR DG reaffirmed that the “establishment or army had the best of relations with the government” and assured that there was no disagreement between the two institutions. “In fact I’d say that the COAS has very good personal relations with Imran Khan and of mutual respect. It will stay the same. Parties and governments change but army meets all of them. There are no issues or problems,” he reiterated.

 

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