DG ISPR, DG ISI make explosive revelations about Arshad Sharif’s murder, cypher controversy

Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum says there was no threat to Arshad Sharif in Pakistan
Updated 27 Oct, 2022 06:13pm

Director General Inter Services Public Relations Lieutenant General Babar Iftikhar and Director General ISI Lieutenant General Nadeem addressed press conference about the murder of journalist Arshad Sharif.

DG ISPR said that the purpose of this press conference was to highlight some key points associated with the killing of Arshad Sharif.

This presser is being done with a view to help distinguish between facts, fiction and opinion, so the truth shall be brought forth, he said, adding that deliberate and consistent targeting of his institution had forced him to come out and publicly refute the allegations.

There is a need to review elements that were used to promote a particular narrative and incite people, make baseless allegations against the institutions, leadership even the army chief, and eventually tried to divide the society and cause chaos, said General Iftikhar.

Expressing condolence with Arshad’s family, he said, “Surely it was a sad incident. During this painful time, we all stand with Arshad Sharif’s family.

Arshad Sharif was the icon of Pakistani journalism because he was a son of a soldier, the brother of a martyred officer, therefore pain and emotions of soldiers were always reflected in his program.

Whether it was Siachin, tribal areas, military exercises, operation areas, the line of control, Arshad Sharif’s program will be remembered as a role model in journalism, he said.

They expected that the army will interfere in political affair against the constitutions of Pakistan. Despite all the fake narrative and propaganda, the army especially the COAS exercised and showed patience.

We tried all the possible ways bring politicians together on the table to help sort political turmoil in the country but it did not happen. They accused of hiding cypher. But the question, was it the Foreign Office that hide it as they were the ones dealing with the cypher.

DG ISPR asked why the government did not take action against those responsible of hiding it at that time.

Apart from Arshad Sharif, other journalists and media activists who addressed the cypher narrative, even they criticized the government.

General Iftikhar said that Arshad Sharif had been criticizing institutions since November 2021 from the ARY’s platform. Despite all of this, the army had no harsh feelings against him.

Other journalists who were also criticizing, they stayed in Pakistan and they have been raising questions about cypher and it was their constitutional rights, he said.

During the entire cypher drama, when we talked to the media and journalists, we always asked them to make sure that not to accuse institutions leaderships’ treason and conspiring and refrain from making apolitical stance of the army controversial.

KP govt issued threat alert that TTP want to target Arshad Sharif’s

DG ISPR Lieutenant General Babar Iftikhar said that on August 5, the KP government issued a threat alert regarding ARY anchorperson Arshad Sharif. According to our information, this alert was issued on special instruction of the KP chief minister. It warned that the Afghanistan-based TTP held a meeting in Spin Buldak and want to target Arshad Sharif in Rawalpindi or adjoining areas.

No information was shared with the federal government or the security institutions who and how gave this information to the KP government that Arshad will be targeted, he said.

It shows that the alert was issued with specific mindset which was probably aimed at forcing Arshad Sharif to leave the country, said DG ISPR.

DG ISPR claimed that there are reports that he did not want to leave the country. “But time and again, he was told that his life is in danger.”

Who helped Arshad Sharif fly out of Pakistan

On August 8, Shahbaz Gill made a controversial statement on ARY News wherein he tried to incite mutiny within the ranks of the army, which was condemned by all and termed it as crossing the red line, the DG ISPR said.

“On August 9, he was arrested. When ARY News Senior Executive Vice President Hammad Yousaf was questioned about the program, it was revealed that soon after the arrest of Gill, ARY CEO Salman Iqbal instructed Hammad that Arshad Sharif should be sent out of Pakistan as soon as possible. Hammad replied that Arshad Sharif has left for Dubai from Peshawar. Then a narrative was built that he will be assassinated abroad.”

The air ticket for Arshad Sharif to go to Dubai was booked at 4:40 pm on August 9, 2022 by an agent named Fazle Rabbi on the direction of Assistant Manager & Planning for ARY. The agent, however, charged Rs550,000 for Sharif’s ticket, he revealed.

According to this travel plan, the journalist was supposed to return on September 9, 2022.

“On August 10, he left to Dubai from Bacha Khan International Airport, Peshawar by Emirates’ flight PK-637 at 6:10 am,” the DG said. During his travel, the KP government provided full security protocol.

KP Chief Minister Secretariat Protocol Officer Umar Gul Afridi took him to the airport in a green number plate (government owned) double cabin vehicle.

KP Chief Minister Secretariat staff facilitated Sharif at the airport. “During this entire process, the institution did not stop Arshad Sharif from going abroad.”

If the federal government wanted to stop him, they could have done through the FIA, he said.

Arshad Sharif stayed in Dubai and left only when his visa expired.

As per the information, no one on the state level forced him to leave from Dubai, claimed General Iftikhar. “So who forced him to leave Dubai,” he asked.

Another question that rises is who was behind the documentation process for his exit from the UAE. Who made arrangements for his meal and stay? Who were the people that told Arshad that he will be safe in Kenya?

Arshad Sharif stay in Kenya and murder

DG ISPR General Iftikhar said a narrative has been propagated that Kenya is only the visa free country for Pakistani passport [holders] contrary to the fact that at least 34 countries offer visa free entry on the green passport.

Why he went to Kenya? Who were providing hospitality to Arshad Sharif? Who are Waqar Ahmed and Khurram Ahmed who are being whom they linked with Sharif’s killing? Did Arshad know them or someone introduced them to him, he raised multiple questions.

Some people claimed Sharif’s meetings in London, who were behind this? What were the objectives? Are all these claims being part of disinformation?

Arshad Sharif was shot dead in a far flung area of Kenya. Even the Kenyan Police did not know him so who shared the informed his killing first and to whom?

Kenyan government and their police have admitted their mistakes but this need to be investigated if it was a case of mistaken identity or target killing, he said.

There are many questions that need to be answered. The investigation should be carried out in a transparent and impartial manner. Therefore, we have requested the government for high-level investigation of the murder, he said.

Even the commission needs international help, including UN representatives, foreign experts , forensic or IT experts, they all should be included in the investigation, the DG said.

In the entire episode, ARY CEO Salman Iqbal’s name came many time, therefore, he should be brought back to Pakistan and included in the investigation, said General Iftikhar.

It is very important to know who benefited from Arshad Sharif’s killing, he said.

I have presented all the facts and figures that have been collected so far, now it’s your responsibility to find out the further facts and expose those responsible, DG ISPR told media.

Army chief raised Cypher issue with Imran Khan on March 11

Since Arshad was an investigative journalist, he also looked into the cypher issue when it surfaced, said General Iftikhar.

DG ISPR highlighted that the slain journalist had also interviewed former prime minister Imran Khan over the cypher issue, adding that at the time it was claimed that he was shown the document.

Facts linked with the cypher and Arshad Sharif’s death need to be ascertained, he said. So there is no ambiguity left in this regard, he added.

DG ISPR revealed that on March 11, Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa himself raise the cypher matter with former prime minister Imran Khan at Kamra. The ex PM told the army chief that it was not a big deal. His reply surprised us.

When Imran Khan waived a paper at a public gathering in Islamabad on March 27 and tried to present it in a dramatic manner, he tried to create a narrative which was far away from the truth, said DG ISPR.

A lot of facts have been brought forward which has unveiled the fiction how Pakistani ambassador’s opinion had been used for political gains.

The National Security Committee Meeting which took place on March 21, moreover, was about this cypher. “During the meeting, the ISI categorically clarified to the National Security Committee that no evidence was found about conspiracy against the ruling government.”

DG ISPR said that the meeting was told that it was an assessment by the Pakistani ambassador. A response that was suggested by the Pakistani ambassador, a recommendation was made by the ISI to the government.

We wanted to make the ISI’s findings public, so we left this decision upon the ruling government,“ he said.

The government, however, did not do this instead more speculations and disinformation were spread aimed at scoring political gains and creating a particular narrative that the cypher was part of a regime change operation through no-trust motion, DG ISPR added.

In the same context, references were made to the US regime change around the world and were then connected to the regime change in Pakistan, he said.

They targeted Pakistani institutions, including the leadership of Pak Army and linked everything with treason.

This was the time when a particular narrative was fed to Arshad Sharif, other journalists and activists, said General Iftikhar.

KP govt issued threat alert about TTP plan to target Arshad Sharif

“On August 5, the KP government issued a threat alert that regarding ARY anchorperson Arshad Sharif. According to our information, this alert was issued on special instruction of the KP chief minister. It warned that the Afghanistan-based TTP held a meeting in Spinboldak and want to target Arshad Sharif in Rawalpindi or adjoining areas,” said General Iftikhar.

“No information was shared with the federal government or the security institutions who and how gave this information to the KP government that Arshad will be targeted,” the DG ISPR said.

“It shows that the alert was issued with a specific mindset which was probably aimed at forcing Arshad Sharif to leave the country.”

He said that there are reports that Arshad did not want to leave the country. “But time and again, he was told that his life is in danger,” said General Iftikhar.

DG ISI makes a rare appearance

DG ISI Lieutenant General Nadeem Anjum, who often stays away from the camera and even got himself cropped out of a photo taken at the PM House, made a rare appearance at the press conference.

“I know you might be surprised to see me amongst you. My policy on my promotion and publishing of my photos is clear. My position is such that I have to remain in shadows,” said General Anjum.

But today is a bit different, I did not come for myself but for my department and officers who lay their lives for the security of Pakistan. And especially for my agency, who as the first defense line of the country work around the clock in every part of the world, said DG ISI.

“When they are being targeted based on lies, as the head of the agency, I can’t stay quiet.”

When the lies are being spread in the country reach a level that there’s fear of chaos in the country, not speaking up about the truth is not an option, said DG ISI.

“I will try not to speak the truth unnecessarily,” he said.

.It is my duty to safeguard the secrets and take them with me to the grave that the nation has entrusted me to safeguard, said General Anjum.

“But whenever needed, I’ll reveal the secrets to defend my agency, martyred and officers,” said DG ISI.

When corps commander Southern Commander and officers were martyred in a helicopter crash in Balcohsitan, they were made fun of, he said.

“There’re no two opinions. It’s totally condemnable if you call someone Mir Jaffar (traitor) without any evidence.”

It’s a narrative based on complete lies, he said adding that “let me tell you why this [narrative] was created.”

“Calling Mir Sadiq, Mir Jaffar, Neutral or animal is not because the army or its chief had committed treason or did something unconstitutional but because they had refused to commit an illegal and unconstitutional act,” said General Anjum.

“Last year, the establishment decided that it will stay within constitutional framework. It was not the decision of a single person, not just the army chief’s decision. The institution had a deliberation over this and we arrived at the decision that it is in the interest of the country and the institution, to limit ourselves to our constitutional role and step out of the politics.”

General Anjum said: “It is my belief that be it my institution, my agency, any Pakistani irrespective of their political ideology should have equal rights. It should not be associated with a single group or name.”

Since last year, and then in March this year, we had an immense pressure on us. We were pressurize using different tactics but the institution and the army chief decided to stick to its principle stance of staying within the constitutional limits, the DG ISI said.

Let me also tell you, if General Bajwa wanted, he could have spent last 6-7 months of his tenure with ease if he had not taken this decision and looked for his own self, he said.

No one would have criticized him but he took the decision in the institution and the country’s interest, the DG ISI added.

He paid a price for this. Foul language has been used against him and his children.

He took this decision because he wanted to leave behind in his legacy an institution with a constitutional role, not a controversial one, General Anjum said.

General Bajwa was offered extension for indefinite period

In March, the army chief was offered extension in his tenure for an indefinite period. It was made in front of me. It was a very attractive offer but he turned it down because of his decision to move the institution away from controversial role to a constitutional one.

You have every right to give your opinion, I respect that right and as a soldier I am ready to protect their right, I would like to ask if you are contend that your army chief is a traitor, a Mir Jaffar then why you used to praise him so much in recent past, General Anjum said.

If you think your army chief is a traitor, a Mir Jaffar then why did you offer him extension in his tenure, asks DG ISI.

“You think he is a traitor but then you asking him to continue in his role for as long as he wants.”

“If he is a traitor, then why do you still meet him secretly,” he asked.

“I have no objection to your meeting, it is our duty to respond to every citizen’s call. But don’t meet us in the dark of the night and express your constitutional, unconstitutional wishes, and then in the light of the day call that person a traitor,” said DG ISI.

“It’s not right to have such a stark difference between what you preach and what do.”

Will be disastrous if Arshad Sharif case doesn’t reach logical conclusion

During the question and answer session following the press conference, journalist Kamran Shahid said that the law in Pakistan has double standards, cases are registered if a journalist like him dare to raise questions about the army. On the other hand, Imran Khan has publicly defamed the army but no one can touch. What kind of legacy are we witnessing in this country,

He also said that PTI leader Faisal Vawda and before him Imran Khan had also claimed to have the information that there was a threat to Arshad Sharif’s life and based on that information he had asked Arshad to leave Pakistan. Did any of the military institutions share this information because a person can’t claim such information with conviction based on their personal sources, he said.

Shahid also asked for the DGI’s comment on claims made by PTI leader Faisal Vawda that the real beneficiaries of Arshad Sharif’s murder are his killers.

“We are also a government institution and as per the recourse of law, we take actions. I have said before if someone accuses the army of something, just like the constitution guarantees the freedom of speech, the constitution does not allow defamation and it also does not allow to talk about the institutions,” DG ISPR responded. The government of the day has to implement the law, if someone is raising fingers at the institutions, then they have to take the action.“

Whenever any such thing happens, we have always approached it through the government, he said, adding that it is the government’s prerogative to take whatever action it thinks fit to take. “All we can do is request.”

General Iftikhar said no information was shared by the institution with Imran Khan. I can’t comment on yesterday’s press conference of Vawda but I believe that the inquiry commission that has been constituted will definitely take into account all these evidence and people.

The DG ISPR said that’s why it is very important to have an impartial and transparent investigation of the case, he said. International, forensic, technical, all kind of experts should be included because it will be disastrous if this case doesn’t reach its logical conclusion.

Calling Arshad Sharif a hardworking journalist, General Anjum said that he respected him. Some people might disagree with his political views but you can’t discount his work and dedication.

As per my information, there was no threat to Arshad Sharif’s life in Pakistan, said DG ISI.

Being from the family of soldiers, when he was in Pakistan, he was in contact with the establishment and the people from the ISI, claimed General Anjum.

He was still in contact when he went abroad, Arshad even contacted this month the BGC that works with, DG ISI added.

He also expressed his desire to return to Pakistan, General Anjum claimed.

The DG ISI claimed that he is in contact with his Kenyan counterpart and as per their initial investigation, the incident happened due to mistake identity.

We, and the government of Pakistan, are not completely satisfied with this, so the government has formed an inquiry committee as well as a judicial commission to probe it.

I deliberately withdrew the ISI officials from both of these forums so the investigations could be impartial and transparent, said ISI chief.

No delay, next appointed will be made on time

To question if propaganda against the army and the ISI is aimed at influencing the next appointment, General Iftikhar said there should be no doubt that the appointment will be on time and as per the constitution.

He said that meeting journalists or sharing information should not be seen negatively. As far as criticism is concerned, it is everyone’s right. We, as an institution, never had any problem with the criticism, he said. The problem arises when the criticism takes the shape of propaganda and accusations. “That is something we need to avoid at all cost.”

Who offered extension to General Bajwa

Responding to a request about naming who offered an indefinite extension to the army chief, ISI chief General Anjum said it was the government of the day and the person who has the authority to grant an extension.

Whatever happened in March 2021 Senate Elections, after that, if anyone has any evidence of the ISI’s interference in any of the elections, then they should come forth. We have repeatedly said if anyone has evidence of any rigging, or the institution’s interference in any political event, please bring it, said DG ISPR.

Watch full press conference

Khan Oct 27, 2022 09:37pm
The nooze is tightening around the neck of Imran Khan. He live and sleep in lies. He did not practice what he preach. Erratic, narcissistic, selfish, immature and self-centred leader like him should not be PM