Faizabad sit-in case: Former law minister says ISI chief asked him to resign

In statement to probe commission, Zahid Hamid says junior ISI officers came home to seek his resignation

Azaz Syed
Former federal law minister Zahid Hamid. — PID/File
Former federal law minister Zahid Hamid. — PID/File
  • Junior ISI officers came home to seek resignation, Zahid says.
  • Former premier told Zahid not to take any pressure.
  • Former law minister lost ministry due to the Faizabad sit-in.

ISLAMABAD: Zahid Hamid, former federal law minister, said Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) director general Lieutenant General (retd) Faiz Hamid met him during the Faizabad sit-in and asked him to resign from his ministerial post.

According to the ex-minister, junior officers of the ISI Lahore came to his house to take his resignation on November 26, 2017.

The minister's statement was mentioned in the report of the Faizabad Sit-in Commission before whom he appeared before as part of the inquiry.

The probe commission was constituted on the Supreme Court's orders following the case pertaining to the 2017 sit-in protest at Faizabad led by former Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi.

Zahid, who lost his ministry due to the Faizabad sit-in, told the commission that he had two meetings with the ISI during the sit-in. The first was held with two persons in the Law Ministry, whose ranks were not known to him. He said they were perhaps colonel-level officers.

Zahid said that they wanted to know about his plans, following which he told them about following the instructions of then-prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and the leadership of his party — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

He said Hamid, who at the time of the sit-in was heading the ISI's counter intelligence wing and held the rank of a major general, met him for the second time and asked if he could consider resigning for a short time to end the crisis. He said they thought that if he went on vacation for some time, the TLP people might be satisfied with that too.

He told the former spy master that he had already offered his resignation to the prime minister, but he was not ready to accept it.

The prime minister told Zahid not to take any pressure, adding that he would dissolve the government and would not allow his minister to resign.

He further said that unfortunately, when the police action failed, he realised the only alternative would be the intervention of the army, which would not be good. In this situation, he once again asked the leadership to accept his resignation, and the PM reluctantly agreed to his resignation, and he was informed about it by the then-chief minister of Punjab, Shehbaz Sharif.

Zahid noted that on the night of November 26, 2017, junior officers of the ISI came to his residence in Lahore and requested him to announce his resignation so that the Faizabad Interchange could get cleared for traffic in the morning.

After consulting the chief minister of Punjab over the phone, he agreed to release news of his resignation before submitting it to the premier.

The former law minister said that on November 26 when the police operation failed he realised that now it was time for intervention. He also revealed that during the sit-in, a meeting was arranged between him and other leaders of the PML-N and a TLP delegation. He said he was deeply saddened by the baseless accusations with regard to his faith.

The former minister said the TLP delegation heard him and categorically said that they withdrew their allegations and the delegation seemed satisfied and asked for time to consult with their leadership. Zahid said members of delegation felt that the protesters who had been protesting for three weeks would not disperse unless he resigned.