ISLAMABAD: A day after the standoff between the civil government and the military establishment over the thorny issue of ‘Dawn Leaks’ ended, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has claimed that all “misunderstandings have been taken care of and the matter is settled now”.
On Wednesday, ISPR Director-General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor ‘withdrew’ the April 29 tweet, rejecting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's directives on an inquiry committee set up to probe the publication of a story in daily Dawn regarding a top-level meeting of the civil-military leadership.
The story published in October last year was considered by the military establishment as undermining the army and put Sharif in the driver's seat. The army’s top brass had called the leak a breach of trust on national security and demanded action. Pervaiz Rashid, the information minister had to step down and a formal inquiry panel was set up.
On April 29, Sharif sacked his trusted aide Tariq Fatemi and ordered disciplinary action against Rao Tehsin, the government's chief spokesperson, on the recommendations of the inquiry panel. But the army promptly rejected the order.
The army’s swift, unequivocal and very public reaction over the notification issued by the PM’s Office had shocked the government. “Twitter reactions were highly dangerous for the country... State institutions don’t communicate with each other through tweets,” the interior ministry had said of the tweet.
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Less than a fortnight later, the army issued a statement clarifying that its previous tweet that rejected Sharif's previous decision “was not aimed at any government office or person”.
“The differences [between the government and the army] pertain to the procedural part of the inquiry report, while there is complete unanimity on its substance,” the interior minister said on Thursday while talking to the media at the Pakistan Secretariat.
By ‘procedural issues’, the minister was implying that the order released from the PM's Office was for all ministries and departments to implement the recommendations of the committee.
“According to the rules of business, the PM’s Office can’t issue notification(s),” Nisar said and added: “The notification should not have been spread. When that happened, there was a misunderstanding that snowballed," he added.
“The statement released by the interior ministry on Wednesday following Maj-Gen Ghafoor’s press conference, recounting the recommendations of the committee, is meant to rectify this mistake.”
“Now that these misunderstandings have been taken care of, the Dawn Leaks issue is settled and let it rest,” Nisar said, adding, “The recommendations of the inquiry committee have been formulated with complete consensus.”
“The civil-military relations have a national background and there is no political dimension to it,” the minister said, adding, “Given the sensitive nature of the subject, one should not play with the security of the country.”
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In an obvious reference to the alleged involvement of the prime minister’s daughter, Maryam Nawaz, in the matter, Nisar said the government should have not constituted two committees over the issue if it had wanted to rescue someone.
“If the government wanted to hide something, it wouldn’t have made a committee and a big commission.”
The minister said the committee had representation of all stakeholders and probed the matter and added that the government did not intervene in its work. He said the premier had issued directives to him that its recommendations should be implemented in letter and spirit.
Nisar said the country’s foes wanted a confrontation between the civil and military establishments. “Therefore, there is a dire need for harmony and coordination between the civil government and the military establishment.”
The interior minister also revealed that the condition of no objection certificate (NOC) for tourists to visit Gilgit-Baltistan had been withdrawn.
However, he said, diplomats, INGOs, research workers and foreigners working on projects in Gilgit-Baltistan would require security clearance before visiting the region.
The minister, while giving details of the decisions taken during high-level meetings at the Ministry of Interior during the last two days, said: “A total of 353,000 CNICs have been blocked.”
“Of them,” he said, “174,000 are of confirmed aliens and they have already been cancelled but they will have the right to appeal. These also include 3,500 aliens who voluntarily surrendered Pakistani citizenship.”
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The minister said of the cancelled CNICs, 10,000 were of those who had registered themselves as Afghans. He said 156,440 identity cards have temporarily been unblocked.
“These will be permanently unblocked if their holders provide solid proof to NADRA [regarding their nationality],” he added. According to him, 33,000 passports have also been cancelled.
Nisar announced that in the future no national identity card would be blocked on suspicion or lack of documentation.
He said holders of such cards would be served notices and provided opportunity to disprove the contention of NADRA.
The interior minister said the crime of illegal human organ transplant had been included in the FIA schedule and the agency would proactively work against the menace during the next few weeks.
He said steps were also being taken to include the crime of food adulteration into the schedule of the FIA.
In the first stage, imported food would be checked at the importer and distributor level by the FIA to ensure that those items were not expired or injurious to health, he stated.
In the second stage, ordinary food items in consultation with the provincial governments would also be brought into the domain of the FIA.
The minister said a seminar, to be attended by all stakeholders, would be organised to draw up recommendations to deal with the problem of radiation by cellular phone companies’ towers installed at populated areas.
He said the Khanani and Kalia Company transferred Rs100 billion abroad in just three years, from 2005 to 2008, adding the FIA had unearthed 1.4 million transactions carried out during that period.
The minister said as a result of efforts launched by the FIA, about Rs2.48 billion of petroleum levy had been recovered from petroleum companies and deposited in the national exchequer.
“Preparations are underway to re-issue red warrants for MQM supremo Altaf Hussain through Interpol before the 15th of next month,” he said and added: “This time the legal aspect of the case will be complete and strong.”