KARACHI: Five days after a military spokesman “rejected” government directives related to an inquiry report, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held a meeting on Thursday night and discussed the issue for its amicable settlement, private news channels claimed on Friday night.

On April 29, the Prime Minister Office had issued directives for the removal of Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi and Principal Information Officer Rao Tehseen in line with the recommendations of the committee set up to hold the inquiry into a Dawn report published in October last year.

A few hours later, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) chief Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, through a Twitter posting, termed the notification “incomplete” and “rejected” it.

On Friday night, almost every news channel, quoting their unnamed sources, reported that a meeting between the army chief and the prime minister was held on Thursday night in a pleasant atmosphere and issues relating to the news report, border and security situation came under discussion.

During the meeting both sides agreed to resolve the issue of the inquiry in an amicable manner, the channels added.

It was reported that the COAS discussed at length the army’s reservations about the actions ordered by the government regarding the news and the prime minister promised that the army’s reservations would be taken into consideration.

Some channels gave Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif credit for defusing civil-military tensions as he was part of a committee formed by his elder brother to resolve the row that had arisen after the government directives and ISPR chief’s tweet.

Neither the Prime Minister Office nor the ISPR chief issued any statement or tweet to confirm or deny the meeting.

Anchorperson and journalist Hamid Mir said in a series of tweets that another, one-to-one meeting between the army chief and the prime minister would take place soon and “after the notification on Dawnleaks inquiry everything will become normal”.

He also tweeted that Thursday’s meeting made it clear that the ISPR chief’s tweet about rejection of the government directives was not “a personal opinion but represented the institution”.

Earlier on Friday, the prime minister met Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to discuss major national security issues and the controversy over the news report. There was no official word on the meeting.

However, sources in the interior ministry said the prime minister had asked Chaudhry Nisar to issue a notification on the findings of the inquiry committee to unveil the basic points of its report so that the concerns of relevant quarters could be addressed.

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2017

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