Pakistan Information Minister quits over ‘leak’ of civil-military spat

Islamabad, Oct 29 (IANS) Pakistan Information Minister Parvaiz Rasheed has resigned from his post in the wake of a story in the Dawn that reported details of a high-level civil-military meeting and an apparent rift between the two on tackling terrorism in the country.

News channels quoted sources as saying that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif asked Pervaiz Rasheed to resign from his post.

The development comes after the October 7 Dawn story “Act against militants or face international isolation, civilians tell military”, which forced the government to initiate an inquiry to identify the person responsible for its leak, Dawn reported.

Sources said Rasheed’s portfolio was taken away after a preliminary inquiry was launched by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. Prime Minister Sharif has ordered a formal inquiry as to whether Rasheed was involved in the leak from the meeting.

Speaking to DawnNews, PM spokesperson Musadiq Malik said, “A committee has been formed for investigation of the Dawn story which is in the final phase of its probe.”

“Pervaiz Rasheed was responsible for the Information Department and he is temporarily suspended from his post until investigations conclude,” Malik added.

“The committee was formed because no conclusive evidence has come forth. The details are with the committee Ch Nisar was heading,” he said.

“The investigation report will only come when the investigation is over. The investigation is being done with all sobriety, all responsible will be punished.”

The Prime Minister’s Office had rejected the Dawn story, but the military maintained the story had been “leaked” and demanded a probe into the matter as it viewed the leak as a breach of national security, Dawn reported.

Journalist Cyril Almeida’s name was also placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) after the publication of the story but his name was later removed by the Interior Ministry as a “goodwill gesture”.

In an Editor’s note, Dawn clarified its position and stated on the record that the story “was verified, cross-checked and fact-checked.”

Earlier this month, participants at a corps commanders meeting expressed serious concern over what they said was “feeding of false and fabricated story of an important security meeting held at PM House” and viewed it as breach of national security.

Media reports also stated on Saturday that Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has left for Dubai with his family. However, Prime Minister’s spokesperson Musadiq Malik said Asif’s departure was not connected to the probe into the story.

In a tweet, Asif said he is in Dubai to attend a wedding and will return on Sunday.