KARACHI: Days after Pakistan's Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa directed the country's commanders and other key officers to stay away from politics and avoid interacting with politicians, the country's premier intelligence agency - ISI- on Tuesday issued strict orders to its officers to stay away from political activities.
Lieutenant General Nadeem Anjum, Director General (DG) of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), issued strict orders to his commanders from the top to the lowest tier and other officials to stay away from any activity involving politics, The Express Tribune reported.
As per the sources, the spy chief personally issued the instructions to his subordinates.
"They have been told in the strictest terms to stay away from politics and avoid any such activity," the sources added.
The spymaster further said that there would be zero-tolerance for violations and any intelligence official found violating the directives would have no place in ISI, reported The Express Tribune.
Pakistan media reports said the unauthorized political role of the agency has dented the reputation of the ISI.
However, the incumbent ISI DG is said to have decided to keep the institution away from politics to stay away from unnecessary controversies. The development came a day after Bajwa directed his top commanders and key officers to stay away from politics in an effort to offset a smear campaign against the military.
These directions have been given after reports said that Pakistan military establishment was involved in political engineering to manipulate the upcoming by-elections in Punjab to the disadvantage of PTI.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has been leading a vicious campaign against the security establishment since the toppling of its government in April this year through a vote of no-confidence, reported The Express Tribune.
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan also claimed that some of his candidates have complained to him of receiving telephone calls from unknown numbers.
The PTI chief also said that his party leaders and workers were being pressurised to engineer the by-elections. Khan himself and his party blamed the military and have mounted a vociferous campaign - especially on social media - to directly point the accusatory finger at some senior officials.
The party has now started peddling the narrative that the security establishment has been engaged in "political engineering" in an effort to manipulate the upcoming by-elections in favour of the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) and its coalition partners.
Senior PTI leader Yasmin Rashid alleged at a recent presser, without providing any evidence to date, that the ISI sector commander was involved in political manipulation against the PTI.
"If you claim to be neutral, then you better stay neutral," said Yasmin, who was Health Minister in the previous Punjab cabinet.
While Yasmin has been direct and blunt, the PTI's chairman and vice-chairmen have used euphemisms to allege what their party colleagues have been saying.
While Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that he was defeated in Punjab Assembly Elections through a conspiracy inside Party politics.
Had I been the Chief Minister Punjab would not have been in such a state of affairs, Qureshi said during his campaign for his son's election, reported The Express Tribune.