A senior Pakistani minister resigned on Saturday over his claim that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency had plotted to topple the civilian and military leadership during protests by opposition parties last year.
Mushahidullah Khan, a top leader of the ruling PML-N party and a member of the Senate or upper house of Parliament, sent his resignation to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from Maldives, where he was on an official visit.
In an interview to BBC Urdu on the first anniversary of the protests organised by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf and Tahir-ul-Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehrik, Khan said the conspiracy allegedly involving the ISI was foiled after the Intelligence Bureau intercepted a call by former ISI chief Lt Gen Zaheerul Islam.
Khan was quoted as saying that Islam had allegedly instructed the opposition leaders to create chaos during the protests and to take control of the Prime Minister’s house.
Information minister Pervez Rashid said in a statement that Khan had sent his resignation to the Prime Minister. On his return from the Maldives, Khan will provide an explanation to Sharif regarding his comments, Rashid said.
The Prime Minister had on Friday asked Khan, who held the climate change portfolio, to explain his remarks.
The military’s chief spokesperson, Maj Gen Asim Bajwa, had described claims about a recording of the former ISI chief’s purported conversation as baseless.
“The story about any tape recording as being discussed in media is totally baseless, unfounded and farthest from truth,” Bajwa tweeted. “Such rumours are irresponsible and unprofessional.”
Khan had told BBC Urdu that the former ISI chief had hatched a plot to oust both army chief Gen Raheel Sharif and Prime Minister Sharif. He said the recording made by the Intelligence Bureau had been sent to the Prime Minister, who passed it on to the army chief during a meeting held on August 28, 2014.
“The army chief was astonished to hear the tape and called for Gen Zaheerul Islam, who came to the meeting and after hearing the (tape) acknowledged that it was his voice,” Khan said in the interview.
Last year’s protest by the opposition parties, which continued for almost four months, had considerably weakened the civilian government.
But a spokesperson for the government said on Friday that no tape of the former ISI chief’s purported conversation existed. “The Prime Minister does not have any knowledge of any such tape,” the spokesperson told media.