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ISLAMABAD: The supreme leader of the ruling party and ousted prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, on Tuesday rejected the press statement which had been issued by the PM Office following a meeting of the National Security Committee denouncing his remarks about non-state actors and declaring them incorrect, misleading and fallacious.

A defiant Sharif was responding to a question about the press release during his interaction with the media outside the accountability court where he had come to attend proceedings in a National Accountability Bureau reference against him regarding Al-Azizia Steel Mills.

A day after his ‘controversial’ remarks made in an interview with Dawn on May 12, the NSC meeting was convened on the army’s request to discuss the matter. The NSC meeting, which was chaired by Prime Minster Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and attended by civil and military leadership, denounced Mr Sharif’s comments.

Terms content of Dawn report accurate; Aitzaz says former PM’s admission proves Dawn not at fault

Rejecting the press release outright, Mr Sharif said: “It was painful and regrettable... I think time has come to tell the nation who had brought the country to this point.

“People should know who brought terrorism to our beloved country. It is equally painful to observe that we have also been isolated as not a single country [is] standing with us. This is the reason that I strongly demand formation of a national commission to differentiate between traitors and patriots.”

He claimed that Pakistan was on a path to progress and prosperity, but certain quarters destabilised everything.

Dawn report: Pervaiz Rashid

In response to another question, Mr Sharif said the contents of a Dawn report published in October 2016 “Act against militants or face isolation” were accurate. The controversy resulted in the removal of then information minister Pervaiz Rashid. Mr Sharif said the story revealed why law enforcement agencies could not overcome the non-state actors. He said that when he advised the security establishment to keep the house in order, they named it Dawn Leaks.

Asked about the reason for sacking then information minister Rashid when the story attributed to Dawn Leaks was true, PML-N leader and daughter of the former prime minister, Maryam Nawaz, said: “It shouldn’t have been done.”

‘Nawaz’s admission is proof’

Senior Pakistan Peoples Party leader and renowned lawyer Chaudary Aitzaz Ahsan said the thoughts shared by Mr Sharif about “Dawn Leaks” made it very clear that the report carried by Dawn a couple of years ago was correct as it reflected what had been shared with the reporter, Cyril Almeida.

“Today’s admission by Nawaz Sharif proves that Dawn and Cyril were not at fault at all,” he said at Geo News show ‘Capital Talk’. “They [Dawn and Cyril] reported what had been shared with them about that particular meeting. Today again people have turned against Dawn and Cyril. So my point is that they again reported what Nawaz Sharif owns. Nawaz Sharif even owns every word of that story.”

Responding to Aitzaz Ahsan’s comments, prime minister’s adviser Musaddiq Malik — also a guest at the talk show — endorsed the impression and said it was not just that day (Tuesday) that his party (PML-N) had owned the story, they had owned it quite early.

“I remember Maryam Nawaz had once said we should have taken stand on Dawn Leaks when the issue had arisen. So what’s new in this matter? What was wrong which emerged [in Dawn report]? If you go through the history you would find the same facts again and again. That should have been told much earlier that it’s all true,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 16th, 2018