It is a sore that will never probably heal. We have become so used to it that whenever there is a lull moment, some restlessness sets in, and we do things that break the silence and refreshes the wound. The notification on Dawn Leaks investigation from the Prime Minister (PM) House and the rebuttal of ISPR on that notification is just one example of it. Even the Dawn Leaks itself was a reminder that the storm lies just below the surface.

It would be intellectual dishonesty to reject all that had been revealed in the Cyril Almeida story October last year. Most of what we read in that piece rings a bell of our flawed domestic and foreign policies. However, it was a security breach. It was a write-up that was structured at the wrong time. It stirred one into a realization that the security of the country is not safe even at the PM House. Every possible top-class official of Pakistan’s bureaucracy, Army, intelligence agencies, and Rangers was present in that meeting. If a conversation among them could go public, what surety could be given about the confidentiality of other issues of national concerns, at some relatively lesser secure place? 

And if that leak was deliberate, to malign Pakistan Army and its intelligence agencies, then, it was a strategically more dangerous move. Opening us up to international criticism at a time when the country was in the middle of a significant military operation, Zarb-e-Azb, when Kashmir was bleeding once again in our backyard because of Indian atrocities, and when Pakistan was making an effort to replace its jihad-driven domestic and foreign policy with the more tolerant and inclusive one, was a wrong shot at the most inappropriate time.

Retrospection is necessary, and it is imperative that our institutions work out territorial differences and realign with a common national narrative. Unfortunately, this is not happening. Unfortunately, we are still surviving on the politics of blame-game. Unfortunately, Pakistan government and the army are still governing themselves as rivals to one another rather than as a part of one state. We have been tricked into believing that Pakistan is run by two parallel institutions, the military and the civilian government.

The Dawn Leaks was the repercussion of this very thought process. The new Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Bajwa, who had to restrain commotion within the Army on Dawn Leaks investigation, which was taking too long to be made public, had asked his soldiers to concentrate on their work and let politicians take care of politics. The chief had to suffer poor approval rating within the Army because of his policy of conciliation. It all turned backward with a single tweet by the ISPR that rejected government’s notification.

According to ISPR, the decision on the investigation report the government had arrived at was different from the one reached upon by the inquiry board that included investigators from the Army, ISI, and MI. Which certainly means the blame was not laid where it belonged, which could also mean that those responsible for making the breach were protected, which could also mean that the possibility of any such violation in the future was not removed.

The tweet, one made up of a very harsh language ‘Notification is rejected,’ audited by the COAS, in one splash took the approval rating of the Army chief way up among his soldiers. The tweet exposed the government to another battle of its poor wisdom and reckoning. The tweet also revealed the vulnerability of the power game that no government can win over being too clever by half.

It should not have been tweeted, then, came the statement from the interior ministry showing indifference with the notification. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said that it was the prerogative of the interior ministry, and not the PM house, to issue such notification. It was meandering of a classic nature. The PM House, the interior ministry and the GHQ working in silos, with a deep-rooted mistrust underlying each other’s relations. It showed that the Army felt betrayed, and took to public to show its resentment. It also showed that the civil-military relationship in Pakistan could easily breakdown. It went to show that the leaders sitting in the government are running this country as their fiefdom, keeping self-interest ahead of national interest.

The Dawn Leaks moment should not be laid to waste. It is, in fact, a crucial juncture in the evolutionary process Pakistan is passing through to become a nation of one people. The distrust among the institutions should be removed, and for that, the political leaders have to stop being corrupt. High moral ground is the only position through which the political leadership could get the military work within the constitutionally defined limits.