ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Army on Wednesday recanted its statement which rejected as ‘incomplete’ the notification issued by the Prime Minister’s Office to punish those involved in the Dawn Leaks scandal.
“The tweet [posted by the Inter-Services Public Relations director general] on April 29, 2017 was not aimed at any government office or person,” the military’s media wing said in a statement.
“Recommendations as contained in para 18 of the Inquiry Committee Report, duly approved by the prime minister, have been implemented, which has settled the Dawn Leaks issue. Accordingly, ISPR’s said Twitter post stands withdrawn and has become infructuous.”
The ISPR statement added that the army “reiterates its firm commitment and continued resolve to uphold the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and support the democratic process.”
“Unnecessary hype was created regarding the ISPR tweet,” ISPR DG Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor told reporters at a news conference held shortly after the ISPR statement was issued. He said an impression was being created that two state institutions were locked in a ‘face-to-face’ confrontation.
On April 29, it rejected as ‘incomplete’ a notification, which said the prime minister had accepted the inquiry committee’s recommendations. The committee was formed on November 7 last year.
“Such a situation should not have arisen,” he said. “The ISPR tweet was not about any personality or institution. It was about the incomplete notification. Today, the interior ministry has issued the complete notification and the matter is resolved.”
Maj Gen Ghafoor added that the army “appreciated the government’s efforts to remove misunderstandings about the Dawn Leaks Inquiry Committee report by issuing a notification that contained complete facts and recommendations.”
To a query, the military’s top spokesman said the recommendations of the inquiry committee had been approved by the premier. “The prime minister is the final authority who has approved the recommendations.”
Maj Gen Ghafoor also reiterated support for democratic rule. “Pakistan Army is a strong state institution. Like other state institutions, it believes in the constitution,” he said.
“The army desires a strong democratic system in Pakistan as per the aspirations of citizens. It will continue to perform its constitutional obligation in coordination with other institutions for betterment of the country,” he added.
The ISPR statement and Maj Gen Ghafoor’s subsequent news conference came after the interior ministry issued a ‘fresh’ notification to punish those said to be involved in the Dawn Leaks scandal.
Interestingly, however, the new notification did not differ much from the one issued by the Prime Minister’s Office on April 29.
The interior ministry notification said the prime minister was pleased to approve the unanimous recommendations of Dawn Leaks inquiry committee. It approved the inquiry panel’s recommendation to ‘remove’ Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi from his current portfolio – the Prime Minister’s Office notification had said Fatemi’s portfolio would be ‘withdrawn.’
The interior ministry notification also endorsed action taken by the federal government against former information minister Pervaiz Rashid and approved recommended action against Principal Information Officer Rao Tehsin under Efficiency and Discipline Rules 1973. It also recommended the referral of the matter of Dawn, its editor and reporter to the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS).
“Since action on the orders of the prime minister has already been completed by the respective ministries and divisions, the issue of Dawn Leaks stands settled,” it said.
The new notification was issued after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa held a two-hour one-on-one meeting, official sources said.
Soon after this, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who was to address a news conference on Wednesday on the Dawn Leaks issue, cancelled the media briefing and was summoned to the Prime Minister House to attend a consultative meeting.
Nisar is now scheduled to hold the news conference today (Thursday).