The Prime Minister’s Office on Saturday 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 directive came 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 report — the contents of which have so far not been made public — also contains the committee’s recommendations on the matter.
Notably, Saturday’s statement from the PM’s Office did not mention why action was ordered against Fatemi.
Directives issued by the PM’s Office.
Additionally, the missive from the PM’s Office read that action should be taken 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 committee’s report.
The PM’s Office also said it 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 journalist Cyril Almeida — who wrote the story — are.
The APNS has additionally been 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 suggests that these four recommendations are in addition to the committee’s recommendations in paragraph 18 of the inquiry report, which has yet to be made public.
Military rejects PM Office directives
Hours after the Prime Minister’s Office issued the directives, however, Inter-Services Public Relations said the Army had rejected the notification, calling it ‘incomplete’.
Director General ISPR Major Asif Ghafoor, who heads the military’s media arm, said in a tweet:
“Notification on Dawn Leak is incomplete and not in line with recommendations by the Inquiry Board. Notification is rejected.”
Story and aftermath
The government had formed a committee in November last year to probe the October 6, 2016 story, which reported the details of a high-level civil-military meeting discussing the issue of banned outfits operating in Pakistan.
The Prime Minister’s Office had initially rejected the story, but the military had mounted pressure to demand a probe into the matter to determine those involved in disclosing the details of the meeting.
The committee subsequently initiated an inquiry to identify the persons responsible for disclosing the details of the meeting to Almeida.
In an Editor’s note, published on October 11, 2016, Dawn had clarified its position and stated on the record that the story “was verified, cross-checked and fact-checked.”
The publication of the story led to the sacking of Pervaiz Rasheed as information minister, as the government felt Rasheed should have told the newspaper not to publish it.
Almeida’s name was also placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) after the publication of the story, but later removed by the interior ministry after human rights and media organisations condemned the move.