RAWALPINDI – The military spokesman has lauded the government for “settling Dawn Leaks issue”, completely ruling out a visible friction between civil-military corridors for last few months.
“[The] Prime Minister is final authority,” DG Inter-Services Public Relations Major General Asif Ghafoor said at a press conference Wednesday to clear the air regarding several major developments on the domestic and internal front over the past few weeks.
Starting with the most recent, he regretted that “everyone, within and without the media, took up a position regarding the [Dawn story probe]. Two sides were formed [on the issue].
“The purpose of the press release was not to side with any personality, it was in reference to the [PM Office’s] press release [sic] being incomplete,” he said.
When asked by a reporter whether the inquiry commission report was incomplete without a mention of Maryam Nawaz, the PM’s daughter “who also runs the PML-N media cell”, Maj Gen Ghafoor maintained only those mentioned in the list faced the music.
“Today, the Ministry of Interior issued an order according to Para 18 [of the inquiry committee’s report] and the misunderstandings of the past couple of weeks have been lifted,” he added.
“Pak Army is a strong institution of the state. We, as an institution, will continue to do what is right for the country and work with other institutions,” he reiterated.
“We have spoken a lot about democracy in the past few weeks, but there a voice was never raised against democracy,” he clarified. “Pak Army values democracy as much as all other Pakistanis,” he said.
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.
“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“Accordingly, ISPR’s said Twitter post stands withdrawn and has become infructuous.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.”
On April 29, the government issued notification sacking special assistant to PM Tariq Fatemi while referring the issue of dawn Leaks to APNS. Not only that, Principal Information Officer Rao Tehseen was also fired days after the notification.
The Dawn Leaks controversy started in October last year when Pakistan’s leading daily ‘Dawn’ in one of its stories by the name ‘Act against militants or face diplomatic isolation’ hinted at the rift between civil-military relations.
The story stirred a major controversy, resulting in columnist Cyril Almeida coming under fire from the military and government and being temporarily placed on the Exit Control List.
The Dawn story quoting official sources said that civilian government and military were not on the same page regarding actions against some specific militant groups and there was heated exchange of words between Punjab CM Shehbaz and ISI chief during a national security meeting.
Pakistan army had dismissed the story as “unfounded and planted” and called for a probe into the leak that led to the formation of an inquiry commission.
Prime Minister Office and Punjab Chief Minister also rejected the report published in the newspaper.
The ISPR chief also spoke on the Chaman firing incident, which saw dozens of casualties on both sides of the border.
Maj Gen Ghafoor, while noting that the villages where the skirmish happened are divided between Pakistan and Afghanistan, reiterated that both civilian and military authorities across the border had been notified of the population and housing census.
“They [the census team] were going to the Afghan police to speak to them about the headcount and that’s when they were fired upon.”
“We are neighbouring countries and share brotherly relations. There should have been no exchange of fire,” he said. “But when they opened fire, we had to give a befitting response.”
Ehsanullah Ehsan’s confession
Moving on to the reason behind airing Ehsanullah Ehsan’s confession, the Army spokesperson said it was only to show how people are being exploited for personal gains.
“Showing his interview was not by any means intended to portray him as a hero,” Maj Gen Ghafoor said.