Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Saturday afternoon slammed what he said was 'unnecessary noise' surrounding the directives issued by the PM's Office earlier in the day in relation to an investigation into a story published in Dawn, saying that a formal notification has yet to be issued in this regard.
He further said the final notification would be issued by his ministry and would be in line with what he called the "black and white" recommendations made by the inquiry committee.
Nisar's statement implied that the PM Office's directives addressed to the interior ministry, on the basis of which his ministry was to issue a formal notification, were leaked before the interior ministry saw them.
It also raised fresh questions regarding what official action his ministry was going to order in relation to the investigation.
Answering a question on the matter at an unrelated press conference in Karachi, he started off saying: "Whatever I say will be in accordance with the law. I believe that tweets, sent out by whichever institution, are a deadly poison for Pakistan's democracy, our system and justice."
"Institutions should not address each other through tweets," he said, in an apparent reference to a tweet sent out by the military's media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), a few hours earlier.
The ISPR had tweeted that the Army had rejected the PM Office's "notification", calling it "incomplete".
Director General ISPR Major Asif Ghafoor, who heads the military's media arm, had said:
"Notification on Dawn Leak is incomplete and not in line with recommendations by the Inquiry Board. Notification is rejected."
Nisar then said that a notification [regarding the inquiry into the Dawn story] is supposed to be "issued by the interior ministry [and not the PM's Office], and we haven't issued it yet."
"The PM's Secretariat or the PM's Office need to read the rules of business: they cannot issue notifications. The 'notification' that is being circulated is actually addressed to the Ministry of Interior is in lieu of the briefing I have given to the prime minister [regarding the committee's recommendations]."
"The [final] notification has yet to be issued by the ministry of interior, and it will be in line with the recommendations we have received from the [inquiry] committee," he said.
"My statement from day before yesterday is on record where I said the PM has accepted the committee's recommendations as they are and has advised the Interior Ministry to act accordingly," Nisar added.
"Why is there such a furore around it? I feel like we are doing this country a disservice by acting like this," he added.
"These are monumental issues, and we are handling them with tweets."
"It is regrettable that a non-issue has been turned into a such a huge deal."
"Nobody will be shielded and nobody is attempting to shield anyone. Whatever the committee's 'black and white' recommendations are, the interior ministry [...] will use them as a basis for its notification," Nisar reiterated.
Statement from PM Office
The Prime Minister's Office had on Saturday issued directives to remove Syed Tariq Fatemi, special assistant to the prime minister on foreign affairs, from his post for his alleged role in 'Dawn leaks', saying that a notification in this regard will be issued shortly.
The directive had come after the inquiry committee probing a story published by Dawn on October 6, 2016 submitted its findings in a report to PM Nawaz Sharif. The report — the contents of which have so far not been made public — also contained the committee's recommendations on the matter.
Additionally, action was ordered against Rao Tehsin Ali, the principal information officer of the Ministry of Information "under the E&D Rules 1973" on charges levelled against him in the committee's report.
The PM's Office also said it recommended referring Dawn to the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) for "necessary disciplinary action".
The APNS was additionally asked to develop a Code of Conduct for print media, especially when it came to stories that deal with "issues of national importance and security".
The language of the statement suggested that the recommendations were in addition to the committee's recommendations in paragraph 18 of the inquiry report, which has yet to be made public.