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In a first, Pak ISI chief directly addresses media

Islamabad, Oct 27, 2022- In an unexpected press conference, chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum joined Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) DG Lt Gen Babar Iftikhar to speak about journalist Arshad Sharif’s killing and former premier Imran Khan’s confrontational narrative against the military, as well as a host of other related topics.

This is the first time in Pakistan’s history that the head of the country’s spy agency has directly addressed the media, Dawn reported.

At the outset of the press conference, Gen Iftikhar said the purpose of the conference was to shed light on the killing of the journalist in Kenya and the circumstances surrounding it.

This press conference is being held in the context of presenting facts so that “facts, fiction and opinion can be differentiated”, he said, adding that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had been “specially informed” about the sensitivity of the press conference.

Gen Iftikhar went on to say that Arshad Sharif’s popularity was based on being an investigative journalist and when the cypher, which Khan has touted as evidence of a foreign conspiracy to oust his government — surfaced, he conducted several programmes on the issue.

He held several meetings with the former premier and interviewed him, the DG ISPR said.

“As a result, it was stated that he was shown meeting minutes and the cypher.”

The facts behind the cypher and Arshad Sharif’s death have to be determined, he said.

Talking about the cypher, Gen Iftikhar said that the army chief had discussed it with Khan on March 11 when the latter had termed it to be “not a big thing”.

At this time, Arshad Sharif and other journalists were fed a particular narrative and an attempt was made to defame Pakistan and the country’s institutions across the world, Dawn news quoted the ISPR chief as saying.

“In this media trial, ARY News played the role of a spin doctor in targeting the army and promoting a false narrative […] the NSC meeting was presented in the wrong context.”

Gen Iftikhar stated that the army was expected to intervene in domestic politics.

“The word neutral and apolitical was turned into an abuse. To all this baseless narrative, the army chief and the institution showed restraint and we tried our level best that politicians sit together to resolve their issues.”

He noted that Sharif made strong comments regarding the army during this time but added that “we did not have any negative sentiments about him and we don’t have such feelings now”, Dawn reported.  (Agency)

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