Paying a visit to the headquarters of the country’s top spy agency, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday termed the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as the best intelligence agency of the world and the country’s first line of defence.
The premier – accompanied by his senior cabinet members, including ministers of foreign affairs, defence, information and finance – was received by Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI Director General Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar at the ISI head office in Islamabad.
This was Khan’s first visit to the spy agency’s headquarters since he took over as Prime Minister on August 18 after his party’s election victory in the July 25 polls.
Khan has already visited the General Headquarters (GHQ) twice – first to get an in-depth briefing on the internal security and geo-strategic situation and then to attend the Defence and Martyrs Day ceremony on September 6.
A statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the premier laid a floral wreath at Yadgar-e-Shuhada and offered Fateha. “[The] PM was briefed in detail on various strategic intelligence and national security matters at the premier agency,” it added.
The statement said the PM lauded contributions of the ISI towards national security especially in the ongoing counterterrorism effort. “The ISI is our first line of defence and stands out as [the] best intelligence agency of the world,” he was quoted as saying by the military’s media wing.
Khan said the government and people of Pakistan firmly stood behind their armed forces and intelligence agencies and greatly acknowledged the unprecedented achievements of these institutions.
Unlike in the past, the civil and military leadership is seen on the same page. Khan, during his address at the GHQ on September 6, rejected as myth the perception about any civil-military divide.
Without naming any party, the prime minister said a wrong impression was created that there was civil-military imbalance in the country. He insisted that all state institutions were working to see Pakistan grow and prosper.
However, Khan has been accused by his critics of being the security establishment’s man. His main political rival, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), accused him of reaching the Prime Minister House through the support of the powerful security establishment.
Khan denied such allegations and in his speech soon after getting elected as PM insisted that he did not start his political career from the lap of any military dictator – an obvious reference to former PM Nawaz Sharif who was once considered as favourite of former military dictator General Ziaul Haq.