LAHORE - The allegation was that the national security had been breached as a result of the publication of a report about six months ago in an English language newspaper. The military leadership repeatedly expressed concern over the report and urged the government to take those responsible to task. A committee which had also representation from the defence people has now come up with some recommendations for action against some elements.

The government’s action: Portfolio of foreign affairs withdrawn from PM’s Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi; Principal Information Officer Rao Tehsin directed to report to the Establishment Division and face action under the E&D Rules 1973; the issue of action against the newspaper and its editor and reporter referred to the APNS.

Before that Senator Pervaiz Rashid was removed as information minister.

The military spokesman tweeted: “Notification on Dawn Leak is incomplete and not in line with recommendations by the Inquiry Board. Notification is rejected.”

Clearly, either the government’s action is nothing more than “window dressing” or the military spokesman’s tweet is overreaction that also undermines the authority of the prime minister.

The controversy has become subject of discussions everywhere and observers say that the report should be made public to provide an opportunity to people to judge which side the truth is on. There is no other way to satisfy the nation.

The action taken by the government and the reaction coming from the army created an impression that the two sides are poles apart.

If the national security had really been breached and some kind of responsibility had been pinned on the special assistant and the PIO, then mere withdrawal of one’s portfolio and direction to the other to report to the establishment division should not be sufficient. Also, there would be no justification for the government to save anybody else – no matter how near or dear - involved in the matter.

Similarly, the reaction of the ISPR DG should also have been proportionate.

If he had overreacted, it should also be verified. And the best way to do this is to make the report public.

The impression of a gulf between the political government and the military should be removed at all costs as this is not only unexpected but also against the national interest.

When Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa was appointed COAS after the retirement of Gen Raheel Sharif in November last year, the PML-N leaders were very happy. They said in their private conversations that civil-military relations will now remain more than cordial during Gen Bajwa’s term. One leader even described the relationship as ‘romance’.

But now it is the question of the credibility of two institutions. The action taken by one and the reaction shown by the other cannot be easily digested because of the yawning gap between the two.

Some people may argue that the publication of the report will not be in the national interest. But this is not a very strong argument. The reason is that when the army showed its reaction all must have examined all aspects of the matter and taken into consideration the government’s likely future course of action. Certainly it would also have looked into the possibility of the government publishing the report – as a result of which the army could face an embarrassing situation.

Then, the army also must have given a very serious thought to the impact of the publication of the report on national security.

Therefore, instead of wasting time on unnecessary criticism of one another the government should publish the report without delay.