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Complete consensus on Dawn story probe: Nisar

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar at a press conference in Islamabad on Thursday claimed there was complete civil-military consensus on the Dawn leaks inquiry report.

“It wasn’t as big of an issue as it was made out to be,” Nisar told reporters a day after Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor announced the decision to withdraw the ISPR’s controversial tweet rejecting the prime minister’s directives on the recommendations of the report of the inquiry committee, set up to probe the publication of a Dawn story regarding a top-level meeting of civil-military leaders.

Following Maj Gen Ghafoor’s press conference, the interior ministry released a statement, recounting the recommendations of the committee and concluding that the issue had been “settled”.

The interior minister claimed there was “complete consensus” on the inquiry report despite there being “some… procedural issues” when it was announced.

“The order released from the PM’s Office, it was an order to all ministries. The notification should not have been spread. When that happened, there was a misunderstanding that snowballed and was rectified yesterday,” he added.

“If the government wanted to hide something, it wouldn’t have made a committee and a big commission,” Nisar claimed.

“You shouldn’t make a joke of civil-military relations,” the interior minister cautioned members of the press. “It is a sensitive subject, not just in Pakistan but in the world. There shouldn’t be any politics in it, and there isn’t anywhere in the world except in Pakistan,”

“Civil-military conflicts are not political, they are national [issues],” Nisar said. “It is a sensitive area.”

“There were senior leaders present in the meetings and senior military leaders as well. There was no discord in the meetings, they were very composed. Differences exist, but they were civil,” Nisar said.

“The matter is settled now,” he asserted.

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Dawn story and the 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 Cyril Almeida, who wrote the story.

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.

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