ISLAMABAD - Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif on Tuesday paid a visit to Inter-Services Intelligence Headquarters in Islamabad for a briefing on professional matters and also for a one-on-one meeting with ISI DG Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam.
The visit had immense symbolic significance as the army chief put his weight behind the embattled intelligence chief.
According to a statement released by the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), ISI DG Lt-Gen Zaheerul Islam received COAS Gen Raheel Sharif on arrival at the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate General. He was given a detailed briefing on internal and external security situation of the country by the ISI DG. The COAS appreciated the role of ISI towards national security and lauded the contributions and sacrifices of its officers and men for the defence of the motherland.
The army chief also discussed matters of professional interest with senior officials of the agency. They also briefed the army chief on the current security situation and the intelligence input being provided to the law enforcement agencies against miscreants.
On the occasion, the COAS said the officers and men of the armed forces had rendered tremendous services for national security and never hesitated to lay their lives for the defence of the motherland.
General Raheel Sharif lauded the services of the Inter-Services Intelligence for countering internal and external threats facing the country.
Lauding its achievements, the army chief highlighted the importance of ISI as a strategic institution which had been working to protect Pakistan’s interests.
The army chief’s visit to the ISI Headquarters was unscheduled, official sources told The Nation.
“He was neither invited nor was his visit scheduled. Ostensibly, his visit was aimed at showing solidarity with the ISI DG in the face of severe criticism coming from a section of the media and its implication in the aftermath of an attack on a media person,” a source privy to the development told this correspondent.
When contacted for their comments on this extraordinary visit of the army chief to the ISI Headquarters, former army officers, including ex-DGs, fully endorsed the visit in the given situation when some media outlets were engaged in mudslinging on the prime security department of the country which has given matchless sacrifices for the motherland.
They said neither the prime minister nor any of his cabinet members have come up with any statement in support of the institution which has been subjected to media bashing and frivolous allegations. So the visit of the army chief was the most appropriate to express solidarity with the ISI and its chief.
While talking to The Nation, General (r) Mehmood Durrani said the visit of the COAS was symbolic and it was more for internal consumption than external.
Ex-Servicemen Association Senior Vice President Brig (r) Mian Muhammad Mehmood said, “ISI is under the attack of global social warfare and we condemn the allegations against the agency and the DG.”
He also demanded an independent and transparent inquiry into the matter so that all those behind falsely implicating the institution could be exposed and the dignity of the armed forces and its allied departments could be restored.
Former ISI DG Lt-Gen (retd) Hamid Gul said Pemra should take action against the media group involved in levelling false allegations against the department which, according to him, was the first line of defence of the country and had rendered matchless sacrifices for the solidarity and integrity of the motherland.
Monitoring adds: According to a private TV channel, General Raheel Sharif was informed that all ranks had expressed displeasure over recent allegations levelled against ISI by a section of the media. They lamented that ISI officers and men sacrificed their lives for the country but still allegations were levelled against the intelligence agency.