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Army withdraws tweet 'rejecting' PM Office's directives on Dawn story probe

Updated May 10, 2017 07:44pm

Pakistan Army on Wednesday "withdrew" a tweet sent out by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General on April 29 which said the Prime Minister Office's directives on the Dawn story inquiry report were "rejected".

"The tweet on April 29, 2017 was not aimed at any government office or person," an ISPR press release said Wednesday.

"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," it added.

"Accordingly, ISPR's said Twitter post stands withdrawn and has become infructuous.

"Pakistan Army reiterates its firm commitment and continued resolve to uphold the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and support the democratic process."

Following the ISPR statement on Wednesday, a document purportedly issued by the Ministry of Interior said that: "Since action on orders of the Prime Minister has already been completed by the respective Ministries and Divisions, the issue of Dawn Leads [sic] stands settled."

Interior Ministry document─DawnNews.
Interior Ministry document─DawnNews.

Detailing the government's final position following the entire affair, the interior ministry repeated the "need to develop a code of conduct for print media, especially when dealing with issues relating to the security of Pakistan".

Continuing in line with the PM Office's earlier directives on the matter, the interior ministry reiterated that Dawn should be referred to the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) for "disciplinary action" against the Editor Dawn and journalist Cyril Almeida.

It also repeated that Rao Tehsin Ali, the principal information officer, had not displayed "the required level of professionalism" and "shown carelessness while dealing with the issue" and should be proceeded against under the Efficiency and Discipline Rules 1973.

The document also reiterated that "Due to reasons referred in previous sections, the Committee recommends removal of Mr Tariq Fatemi from his current Portfolio."

The only 'new' part of the interior ministry's 'notification' was an endorsement of the removal of Senator Pervaiz Rashid by the federal government.

PM Office's directives

On April 29, the Prime Minister's Office had 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 directives had come after an inquiry committee probing a story published by Dawn on October 6, 2016 submitted its findings in a report to PM Nawaz Sharif. The committee's report — the contents of which have so far not been made public — had also contained the committee's recommendations on the matter.

Action had also been ordered by the PM's Office 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 report.

The PM's Office had also recommended referring Dawn to the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) for "necessary disciplinary action", but did not say what the charges against Editor Dawn or Almeida — who wrote the story — were.

The APNS was asked to develop a code of conduct for print media, especially when it comes 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.

However, after the Prime Minister's Office's directives were 'leaked' to media, the ISPR had tweeted saying the Army had "rejected" them, terming them "incomplete".

Maj Gen 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."

Following the ISPR's tweet regarding the notice, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had slammed what he said was 'unnecessary noise' surrounding the directives issued by the PM's Office earlier that day regarding an investigation into the Dawn story, saying that a formal notification has yet to be issued in this regard.

He further said a 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.