ISLAMABAD - The government has categorically denied media reports suggesting that some army officers hatched a conspiracy to replace incumbent army chief during PTI sit-in last year.

Ruling out the possibility of success of any conspiracy within army, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan Monday said such a plot could not succeed as the army was a disciplined and professional force.

“The Army has neither become victim of an in-house conspiracy in the past nor this could happen in future”, he told reporters after inaugurating online application system for issuance of CNICs at National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) headquarters.

The army, the government and the nation had full confidence in the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), he said, adding that reports terming the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) sit-in a conspiracy against the army were completely baseless.

PTI leader Brig (r) Samson Simon Sharaf while talking to senior journalist Matiullah Jan in a Waqt TV show had claimed his party had contacts with Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) at the time of Islamabad sit-in.

He also claimed that then ISI director general Lt-Gen Zeheerul Islam, along with few other army officers, was backing the PTI in its protest sit-in and they were anticipating that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif would take action against the COAS out of nervousness.

Brig (r) Sharaf said that PM showed a telephonic conversation of General Zaheer with some PTI leaders to General Raheel Sharif after which the army chief summoned ISI chief. The army chief asked Zaheer if he (COAS) had told him to do that and he answered in the negative. This action rebuild the confidence between the PM and the COAS, he further claimed.

“This kite flying is not appropriate and instead of spreading such rumours, we should stand united with the army as we are in a state of war and our enemy is not visible,” the interior minister said in his press talk. He termed such ‘rumours’ against army to be against the national interest. He said the country was facing insurgency and problems of economy and security which needed focus and attention.

Ch Nisar said that he can write a book on the PTI sit-in, but it was unfair to wash dirty linen in public. Answering a question, the interior minister said he kept on closely interacting with the army and the intelligence agencies during the sit-in as his ministry was responsible for internal security and the paramilitary forces were under it.

About the ongoing operation in slum areas, he said roots of many criminal activities have been found in these areas. He cited the kidnapping of an eight-year-old boy for ransom as an example. He remarked that an inquiry should be held against the corrupt employees of Capital Development Authority (CDA), which let these slums grow.

He disclosed that three terrorists had been arrested from Islamabad, with a high profile government functionary being their target. He refused to disclose the name of the target but said the number of these terrorists was five, out of which three had so far been nabbed. Responding another question he said that a car mistakenly came in the way of the prime minister’s convoy Sunday night but its driver, when probed, was found to be innocent.

The minister informed that Nadra would be providing some key services in next six months including establishment of 13 next generation business centres providing multiple services. Nadra has started tracking system for CNICs.

Following the launch of this service, there will be no need to come to Nadra offices for renewal of identity cards. “Now citizens will visit only to Nadra offices for obtaining CNIC for the first time “, he said. He informed that Nadra cleared a backlog of 650,000 CNICs within six months and earned Rs5 billion. He said Nadra would also establish DNA laboratory to facilitate law-enforcing agencies.

He conceded that huge number of national identity cards had been issued to foreigners by some individuals within Nadra. A Nadra assistant director in Karachi issued 389 CNICs to Afghans and offered Rs10 million as bribe to his director to hush up the matter, the minister revealed.

The minister said only 26 fake identity cards had been tracked in 2011 and 493 in 2012.

However, the number of fake cards rose to 6,000 in 2013, 22,000 in 2014 and 64,000 in the first six months of this year. All these cards have been blocked, he added.

He said a committee had been formed having representation of ISI and Intelligence bureau (IB) to track such cases so that these cards could be immediately blocked. He said arrangements were being made to make issuance of fake identity cards impossible.

Nisar made it clear that there would be zero tolerance for corruption in the organisation, the accountability system would be strengthened and those demonstrating outstanding performance would be rewarded.