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PM dismisses Tariq Fatemi over Dawn leaks controversy

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Saturday dismissed Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi over the Dawn leaks scandal, a move which was rejected by the Pakistan Army. 

Pakistan Army rejected the notification issued by the Prime Minister’s Office calling it “incomplete” and “not in line with recommendations” by the inquiry committee formed to probe the issue.

The notification date April 29 duly signed by the Prime Minister’s secretary Fawad Hussain Fawad stated that Fatemi had been removed and a necessary notification has been issued forthwith.

“Allocation of portfolio of Foreign Affairs to Syed Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, shall be withdrawn,” said a notification issued from the Prime Minister’s Office.

Furthermore, it has been decided to take action against Rao Tehsin Ali, Principal Information Officer of the Ministry of Information, on the charges after the findings of the report. The action will be taken under Efficiency and Discipline Rules 1973 of the constitution which deals with government officials.

The Prime Minister also directed to refer the role of Dawn newspaper, editor Zafar Abbas and journalist Cyril Almeida to the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) for necessary disciplinary action.

The APNS has also been asked to develop a code of conduct for the print media especially when dealing with issues relating to national security, and ensure that stories are published by abiding to basic journalistic and editorial norms.

Fatemi had earlier refused to tender his resignation, and said that he had nothing to do with the Dawn leaks controversy. He had allegedly warned to reveal the names of others involved if he was removed unceremoniously from the post.

The final report was presented to PM Sharif by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar earlier this week. The matters pertains to sensitive news item published on October 6, 2016 in the English daily over a rift between the government and the military.

An inquiry commission was formed headed by former Lahore High Court Judge Amir Raza with representatives of the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Intelligence Bureau (IB) and the Military Intelligence (MI) to inquire into the matter.

The Interior Ministry has on October 14 last year lifted travel ban on Almeida as a ‘good-will gesture’ but continued inquiry into the ‘inaccurate and fabricated’ article. The military’s press wing had issued a separate statement calling the article a ‘breach of national security’.

Former Information Minister Pervez Rasheed had also been removed from his position in October last year, but the inquiry report did not find ‘solid proofs’ against him. However, it has been known that he has been permanently removed from the post.

Pakistan Army rejects notification

Pakistan Army rejected the notification issued by the Prime Minister’s Office over the Dawnleaks issue.

Director General Inter Services Public Relation (ISPR) Major Gen Asif Ghafoor issued a brief statement and said that recommendation of Pakistan Army were not incorporated.

“Notification on Dawn Leak is incomplete and not in line with recommendations by the Inquiry Board,” said the military press wing.

“Notification is rejected,” it stated.

Political parties reaction

Political opponents also objected to the notification by the PM’s officer. Leader of Opposition in National Assembly and Pakistan People’s Party leader Khursheed Shah said that he will bring up the issue in parliament.

He supported the army’s rejection of the notification and said it has widened the gap between the military and the government.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf vice-chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that government and the military are not on the same page and notification shows the trust deficit between them.

Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed said that there is not middle path for PM Sharif over the issue, while Pakistan Awami Tehreek chief Tahir-ul-Qadri termed PM Sharif a “security risk” for the country.



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