Pakistan’s civilian govt, military settle row over Dawn Leaks | world-news | Hindustan Times
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Pakistan’s civilian govt, military settle row over Dawn Leaks

Pakistan’s civilian government and the powerful military establishment have “settled” a row over a report in the Dawn newspaper about differences between the two institutions on tackling terrorism.

world Updated: May 10, 2017 21:28 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Analysts said the settlement followed discussions between the civil and military leadership following fears of a confrontation.
Analysts said the settlement followed discussions between the civil and military leadership following fears of a confrontation. (Reuters File)

Pakistan’s civilian government and the powerful military on Wednesday resolved a row over a newspaper report on differences between the two institutions on tackling terrorism, with the army saying it is committed to backing the democratic process.

Statements issued by the government and the military said the “Dawn Leaks” issue – a reference to a report in Dawn newspaper about a high-level meeting on October 3, 2016 during which civilian leaders had spoken out about the “growing international isolation” of Pakistan for failing to act against some terror groups – had been “settled”.

Analysts said the settlement followed intense discussions between the civil and military leadership following fears of a confrontation. It also followed a meeting between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and army chief Gen Qamar Bajwa that was attended ISI head Naveed Mukhtar and finance minister Ishaq Dar.

The military’s chief spokesman had created a flutter by tweeting on April 29 that the action taken by the Prime Minister’s Office in the matter was being “rejected” because it was “incomplete”.

Following an official inquiry, the government had sacked Tariq Fatemi, the Prime Minister’s special assistant on foreign affairs, and initiated disciplinary action against a senior official for their purported role in leaking information about the meeting in October 2016.

The army took a step back on Wednesday, with a brief statement saying the Dawn Leaks issue had been settled as the inquiry report’s recommendations had been implemented. The statement added that military spokesman’s tweet was withdrawn as it was “infructuous”.

“The tweet on April 29, 2017 was not aimed at any government office or person…Pakistan Army reiterates its firm commitment and continued resolve to uphold the constitution…and support the democratic process,” it added.

A separate statement issued by the government referred to the need to develop a “code of conduct” for the print media, especially on issues of national security. It also said the role of Dawn’s editor Zafar Abbas and columnist Cyril Almeida should be referred to the All Pakistan Newspapers Society for “disciplinary action”.

Minister of state for information Marriyum Aurangzeb told the media a “mature and sensible decision had been taken to avert any impression of confrontation between the two organs of state”. She said the army’s statement would go a long way in strengthening democracy.

The chief military spokesman, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, told a news conference that an “environment of division” between the civil and military leadership had been created after his tweet on April 29.

“What happened after the (tweet) is regrettable,” he said, adding the two sides were pitted against each other and this should not have happened. 

The report in the Dawn newspaper had referred to purported differences between the military and the civilian government over countering terror groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba and Haqqani Network, which have strong ties to the army.