A senior Pakistani minister has been forced to resign after he accused the former head of the country’s powerful intelligence agency of plotting to overthrow Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, officials said on Saturday.
Environment Minister Mushahid Ullah Khan quit following an interview with the BBC on Friday in which he claimed that Gen. Zaheer-ul-Islam, former head of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), conspired to overthrow Sharif last year.
Khan, a close aide of Sharif, said the general had orchestrated a plan to take over the government by “creating chaos and unrest” during a four-month opposition sit-in outside parliament last year.
“Mushahid Ullah is currently in [the] Maldives on an official visit,” Information Minister Perwaiz Rasheed told reporters. “He has been instructed by the prime minister to get back to the country immediately and tender [his] resignation.”
A spokesman for Sharif, who asked not to be named, told Anadolu Agency that Khan’s resignation had been received and accepted by the prime minister.
Mushahid Ullah had claimed a recording of Zaheer giving instructions on spreading unrest was presented to Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif by the prime minister.
The minister’s claims - widely seen as a further blow to the fragile civil-military relationship - were immediately rebutted by Sharif’s office.
Pakistan has a long record of fractious relations between the military and civilian politicians, with military dictatorships accounting for around half the country’s governments since independence in 1947.