ISLAMABAD - Army Chief General Qamar Javid Bajwa met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday and the Dawn leak issue got ‘amicably resolved’.

“[The] prime minister is final authority,” ISPR DG Asif Ghafoor told a press conference yesterday, days after he ‘rejected’ his directives over the leak issue, calling them ‘incomplete’.

The saga of news leak, which kept the political arena quite stormy for months, goes like this:

A news allegedly containing information about a supposedly ‘top-secret’ civil-military leadership meeting is published by a leading English language daily in October, raising a squall.

Feeling the gust, government is quick to call it ‘fake’ and ‘fabricated’.

Military high command expresses serious concern over “feeding of false and fabricated story”, viewing it a “breach of national security”.

The information minister is sent packing, and a probe team is constituted to investigate the issue and punish the culprits [thought to be civilians].

A months-long tussle continues between the two sides, reaching the high point where the Army bluntly ‘rejects’ the ‘incomplete’ directives, issued by the PM in the light of the probe committee’s recommendations, which too had got leaked somehow.

Despite intense pressure, the newspaper stands by its story all along.

And now finally the big two meet and the whole issue gets ‘amicably resolved’.

The prime minister’s media office informed about Wednesday’s meeting that it was held in cordial atmosphere and both sides agreed to amicably resolve the matter and remove the acrimonies on the issue.

The meeting, which remained in session for well over one-and-a-half-hour, was also attended by the Interior Minister Ch Nisar Ali, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and ISI DG Lt-Gen Naveed Mukhtar.

Sources informed The Nation that Ch Nisar had played the key role in settling the civil-military tiff and managed to bring the two sides on the same page.

The outcome of the Sharif-Bajwa meeting came soon, as ISPR DG Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor through a press release withdrew his controversial tweet, which had prompted a strong reaction with suggestions that it was a clear manifestation of a ‘state within a state’.

After the PM Office’s directives April 29, sending adviser on foreign affairs Tariq Fatemi and Principal Information Officer Rao Tahseen packing, were leaked to media, the ISPR tweeted saying the Army had rejected the PM’s directives.

Shortly after Wednesday’s meeting of the big two, ISPR in a press statement said the Dawn leaks issue has been settled, saying the tweet “was not aimed at any government office or person”.

It stated, “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. 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.”

Later through a press release the interior ministry upheld the prime minister’s directive on recommendations of Dawn leaks and also retained the decision taken earlier against the former Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid, who was removed from his position soon after the news leak.

The ministry said that “since action on orders of the prime minister has already been completed by the respective ministries and divisions, the issue of Dawn Leads [sic] stands settled.”

Detailing the government’s final position following the entire affair, the interior ministry repeated the “need to develop a code of conduct for print media, especially when dealing with issues relating to the security of Pakistan”.

It said the Inquiry Committee had recommended that the role of daily Dawn, its editor Zafar Abbas and reporter Cyrill Almeida in the case may be referred to All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) with a direction to take disciplinary action against them.

The Committee unanimously had agreed that the then Principal Information Officer Rao Tehsin Ali had not displayed the required level of professionalism and showed carelessness while dealing with the issue. The Committee recommended that he may be proceeded against under the Efficiency and Discipline Rules.

The Committee also had recommended removal of Tariq Fatemi from his portfolio of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs.

ISPR Press conference

Later in the day, ISPR DG also held a press conference where he appreciated government’s efforts to resolve the issue and clearing the misunderstanding.

Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor said an environment of division was created between army and the government after the April 29 tweet.

He said, “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.

Pakistan Army is committed to working with the government to strengthen the democratic process and supremacy of the constitution for development in the country.”

The ISPR chief said the issue has been settled after issuance of notification by interior ministry. “Today the interior ministry has released complete order in line with Para 18 of the inquiry report”, he said.

The ISPR tweet had caused a stir in politics of Pakistan because it was considered a direct challenge to authority of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan called the tweet ‘poisonous’ for democracy of Pakistan.

Answering a question, ISPR DG said twitter is the fastest medium of communication and Pakistan Army had expressed its concerns over the notification issued by the prime minister’s office.