Journalist refutes Naeemul Haque’s statement, claims interview was on-record


–Foreign journalist reminds Haque interview for The Independent was recorded through devices kept next to PM

–Premier had drawn ire over ‘Pakistan is desperate’, ‘there was lesser political victimisation in Zia’s dictatorship than in PPP and PML-N’s tenures’ statements

Soon after Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Affairs Naeemul Haque said that the premier did not give any interview and only spoke to foreign journalists in a “private conversation”, one of the journalists refuted his claims and shared the details of the “on-the-record interview”.

“The prime minister did not give an interview. A delegation of foreigners touring Pakistan called on him and were told about the state of affairs we are faced with,” Haque stated in a tweet after the government had drawn ire over PM Khan’s “Pakistan is desperate” statement to foreign journalists.

The premier had also faced criticism on social media for saying there was “less political victimisation in Zia’s dictatorship than in PPP and PML-N’s tenures”.

On Tuesday, Haque said, “No interview was requested or granted. John Osborne a cricket writer and friend of PM came to present his new book and brought with him three other people whom we did not know. What ensued was a private conversation.”


However, the special assistant’s claims were rebutted by Amanda Coakley, an Irish journalist, who was accompanying the delegation that called on the premier.

“I beg to differ Mr Haque. On Sunday 14, three British journalists and myself an Irish journalist went to Pakistan as part of a UK Media Delegation, and were offered an interview with PM Khan,” Coakley tweeted.

She went on to say that on Saturday, the delegation met the PM and conducted an “on-the-record interview” which lasted 1 hour and 12 minutes. “You were in attendance as was Mr Fawad Chaudhry and Mr Sarfraz Hussain, picture attached,” she wrote while also sharing a picture of the meeting.

“All journalists present recorded the interview on different devices, and everyone in the room would have seen this. Two devices were on a little table next to the PM. There was no mention of anything being ‘off the record’,” Coakley said in a subsequent tweet.


PM Khan on Monday had reached Saudi Arabia to attend the Future Investment Initiative Conference (FIIC), saying his country was going through the worst debt crisis of its history “so we are desperate at the moment”.

“The reason I feel I have to avail myself of this opportunity [to speak to the Saudi leadership] is because in a country of 210 million people right now we have the worst debt crisis in our history,” the premier had told The Independent in the interview in question.

To a question, the prime minister had said he was concerned at the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, but could not skip the FII conference because “we’re desperate” for possible Saudi loans to shore up Pakistan’s economy.


Speaking of the military’s role in safeguarding civilian rule, the premier had said Pakistan’s military regimes in the past “had been more benign than some civilian governments”.

“I can tell you that under General Zia’s military rule there was less political victimisation than in the last 10 years of Nawaz Sharif and [Asif Ali] Zardari,” he had said. “The intentions of the Pakistani military are being misrepresented – in fact, it currently promotes and safeguards civilian rule.”

“The military’s role in politics depends on one man, the army chief,” PM Khan had said. “The establishment of General Bajwa is probably the most pro-democratic establishment in our history. I mean the way they have conducted the elections. The army was inside the polling stations and outside, they protected the election on the day.”