PM calls special meeting of aides to discuss Dawn Leaks inquiry report: sources

LAHORE: A special meeting of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s close aides is currently under way in Lahore. The meeting was summoned by PM Nawaz on Sunday.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar, and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif among other leaders have reached the PM House for the meeting. 

According to sources, issues related to the Dawn Leaks inquiry report would also be discussed in the meeting, which is being presided over by Prime Minster to deliberate upon the situation arising out of the controversy over the report.

The federal cabinet division on Saturday issued a notification ordering the withdrawal of the portfolio of Foreign Affairs from the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi. Earlier, Establishment Division had issued a notification, transferring Principal Information Officer Press Information Department Rao Tehseen and asking him to report to the Division immediately. 

Read more: Dawn Leaks: Publishing of story govt’s failure, says inquiry report

The action was taken in response to the alleged involvement of the two officials in Dawn leaks case, which relates to a story published by an English-language daily, Dawn, on October 6. In the story, journalist Cyril Almeida had written about an alleged civil-military rift during a National Security Committee (NSC) meeting over the issue of tackling jihadi outfits.

The story stirred a major controversy last year, resulting in resignation of former Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed and Almeida coming under fire.

An inquiry committee was formed to probe the matter and a report was compiled which placed blame on Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi and Principal Information Officer at the Press Information Department Rao Tehsin, sources had earlier told Geo News.

In response to the report, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had approved on Saturday morning the recommendations of the Dawn leaks Inquiry committee, withdrawing the portfolio of Foreign Affairs from his Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi, according to an order of PM Office.

The executive had said that Rao Tehsin Ali, the principal information officer at the Information Ministry, would also be sanctioned, adding the editor of Dawn Newspaper, Zaffar Abbas, and reporter Cyril Almeida will be referred to the All Pakistan Newspaper Association (APNS) “for necessary disciplinary action.”

Read more: Pakistan Army rejects govt notification on Dawn Leaks

Reacting to the statement, the Pakistan Army had rejected the notification and said it was incomplete and not in line with the recommendations by the inquiry board.

The Army announced the rejection in a tweet sent out by DG ISPR Major-General Asif Ghafoor from his official account: “Notification on Dawn Leak is incomplete and not in line with recommendations by the Inquiry Board. Notification is rejected.”

Discussing Imran Khan’s allegations

The meeting participants are also likely to discuss the allegations by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairperson Imran Khan that he was offered Rs10 billion to stay mum on the Panama leaks case. The participants will discuss who made Imran Khan the offer and how to proceed with the issue, according to a Geo correspondent.

Last week, Imran Khan had alleged that he was offered Rs10 billion to stay quiet on the Panama case. Refusing to disclose the name of the person who made the offer, Imran had said that the person was a close aide of Shehbaz Sharif.

Read more: Shehbaz to quit politics if Imran’s Rs10bn allegations proven true

This led to a political turmoil and heated exchange of words between Pakistan Muslim League- Nawaz and PTI leaders.

In response to the allegations, Chief Minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif said on Saturday that he will quit politics if the allegations against him are proven while addressing a public gathering in Sargodha.