Imran Khan begins long march with guns aimed at ISI chief

Seeking the attention of army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, the former Prime Minister said these officers were tarnishing the image of the institution.
Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan
Former Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran KhanIANS

LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chair-man Imran Khan has kicked off his much-awaited Haqeeqi Azadi march towards Islamabad with a no-holds-barred speech targeting the country's premier spy chief and other intelligence officers.

Addressing from atop a container at the starting point of the march, the Liberty Roundabout, Khan incriminated the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general (DG) for holding a "political presser", and called out two other army officers for playing the role of "Dirty Harry" for picking up and torturing a party senator, Dawn news reported.

Seeking the attention of army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, the former Prime Minister said these officers were tarnishing the image of the institution.

On Thursday, in an unprecedented appearance at a media conference by a spy chief, ISI chief Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum spoke alongside armed forces' spokesman Lt Gen Babar Iftikhar.

The officers alleged their leadership was being maligned for refusing to help the former premier through "illegal and extra-constitutional means" ahead of a confidence vote in parliament earlier this year and that Khan attempted to entice the army chief with an "indefinite extension" in a last-ditch attempt to save his government, Dawn reported.

Khan began his speech on Friday by castigating the ISI DG for claiming his organisation was apolitical and neutral.

He said the spy chief actually delivered a "political presser" and conveniently ignored any reference to the "group of thieves" that got its Rs1.1 trillion theft written off.

"I haven't even heard (former interior minister) Sheikh Rashid conducting such a candid political news conference," he quipped.

The former premier warned Gen Anjum that he also held many secrets, but was staying mum for the interests of the country and state institutions, Dawn reported.

"I am not like the absconder Nawaz Sharif that I will run away to London and then spew venom against the army," he remarked, maintaining he had always done constructive criticism against the army and other state institutions because he wanted to see Pakistan an independent and sovereign state.

He also took on ISI DG-C Maj Gen Faisal Naseer and Islamabad Sector Commander Faheem Raza for allegedly picking up the party's septuagenarian senator, Azam Swati, and torturing him.

The former premier further accused the officers of torturing party leader Dr Shahbaz Gill and journalist Jameel Farooqi.

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