Is Dawn Leaks notification an attempt to cover up truth?

LAHORE: While it appears that the report of the inquiry committee on Dawn Leaks has been secured somewhere, the notification issued with the signature of Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Fawad Hasan Fawad says the premier has approved the panel’s recommendations.

The ink on the notification had not even dried when the military’s top spokesman rejected it as ‘incomplete’. Both the government and the army had promised that the report will be made public.

On October 3 last year, the political and military leadership held a meeting at the PM House which discussed various issues. Three days later, Dawn published a story claiming the government wanted to take action against terrorists but could not do so because of intelligence agencies.

The security establishment reacted strongly to this story and civil-military relations grew tense. The PM House refuted the story three times and an official communiqué termed it contrary to national interests.
Then information minister Pervaiz Rashid was removed from the post and the name of reporter Cyril Almeida, who filed the story, was briefly placed on the ECL.

A seven-member inquiry committee led by Justice (retd) Amir Raza Khan was set up to probe the matter. It did so over a period of five months and presented its report to the interior minister on Tuesday. He in turn presented the report to the prime minister, who approved the recommendations it contained on Saturday.

The military establishment’s rejection aside, one can only tell what recommendations the premier approved and why the notification was incomplete when the report is made public.

According to the recommendations that are known, Tariq Fatemi has been removed from his office like Pervaiz Rashid before him and the All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS) has been asked to deal with Dawn editor Zafar Abbas and Cyril Almeida, meaning the issue will be sorted ‘in house’ by the media fraternity.

The recommendation that requires the most attention is the one which suggested action against Principal Information Officer Rao Tehsin Ali under Efficiency and Discipline (E&D) Rules 1973. This creates the impression that Tehsin was the real culprit behind the scandal and means the weakest player of the game is being painted as the main accused.

Two former information ministers, Sheikh Rashid and Sherry Rehman, have vouched for Tehsin’s professionalism, with the former even announcing he will go to court for the PIO. During the record period of time he has served as the PIO, Tehsin has established good relations with editors as well as reporters.

It is also beyond comprehension that a PIO is being held responsible for failing to prevent stories from appearing in newspapers. The PIO can request better display for pro-government stories but it is for the editor to decide whether to entertain him or not. It is impossible for him to ensure even that happens, let alone whether stories are stopped or not.

As tensions emerge in the civil-military relations once again, sources have said the army is considering its own independent inquiry. If this happens, all the effort being made to save the skin of some will go in vain.

The government should immediately make the report public. Otherwise it will be suspected that the main character of the story was someone else and the purpose of the whole drill was to save that person. A few goats are being sacrificed to save some powerful persons sitting in the corridors of power.

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