The controversial report published in national daily Dawn on October 6 pertained to topmost level meetings held at Prime Minister House in connection with National Security Committee and National Action Plan. The leak from PM House lays bare the fact that national security was compromised by the key ministers who are inevitably part to all such meetings.
As a result of widespread ECL discussion in the backdrop of right to freedom of expression, most people have fallen prey to a fallacy based on an incorrect reasoning regarding immunity of a journalist. There is not a single country in the world that provides overarching and impregnable cover to a journalist who breaches national security.
Prior to advent of present era of awareness incensed with scientific knowledge and technological advancements, the kings enjoyed sovereign immunity under a doctrine based on the maxim that ‘Kings can do no wrong’.
As an established fact, no one including a journalist, a politician or a military dictator can have an absolute freedom of expression. The topic has been extensively brainstormed in all major media around the world in the perspective of sensitive issues. Certain topics are virtually a no-go area and transgressors have been meted out exemplary punishments.
Rights always come with responsibilities and duties. Freedom of expression is a right. And, national security is a duty. Famed social contract guarantees certain fundamental rights. Not a single country entitles any of its citizens to violate national security parameters. A citizen found responsible for security breach is duly punished in every law-abiding country.
I firmly believe that no ‘apt’ question of immunity of a journalist is just relevant to be broached if the country’s security is being menacingly exposed.
Why do you think Americans consider Hillary Clinton, the then Secretary of State of the United States as unfit for the post of US president? The very evident answer lies in her lax approach toward the security of her official emails that most probably contained national secrets that should be withheld from public circulation or scrutiny.
If Cyril Almeida, a journalist in question who willingly gave his name to the controversial report, is not to blame, then, every convicted assassin who is waiting for his hanging at the gallows, should be freed. Nonetheless, Almeida has been shown the door out to run clear of any penalty. Why? I expect some revelations in this regard have slipped into the pipeline that may surface once the PML-N government is no more.
It is yet to be ascertained if the report was taken up verbatim as dictated to him by certain high-level government functionaries.
After compromising national security, the federal government led by Nawaz Sharif has yet again attempted to mislead the masses of Pakistan by taking the information ministry back from Pervaiz Rashid over the ‘lapse’ as government has termed it.
I do not know if the word ‘lapse’ has been approved by Pakistan Army or not. But apparently, I can feel the very word is misleading and serves to further fray the civil-military relations.
A preliminary investigation captained by Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan found the federal information minister Pervaiz Rashid involved in the leak of the report which the Pakistan Army said was fed.
The initial probe led to an inquiry committee. The PM House statement notifies the committee has been put on anvil with senior officers of Inter-Services Intelligence, Military Intelligence and civil Intelligence Bureau as its members. The new probe body has been mandated to clearly set the blame, identify interests and motives and expose all those who were responsible.
Commenting on the government decision, General (rted.) Amjad Shoaib said the forcing out of Pervaiz Rashid is just a beginning point and a lot is to follow.
The government step could not convince Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) Chairman Dr. Tahir-ul-Qadri who said the dismissal of the federal minister is nothing more than a cosmetic measure, adding, “The minister will be reinstated at his office with a clean chit from the inquiry committee.”
His apprehension (read: prediction) stands vindicated in the light of the gimmicks (Read: shenanigans) of PML-N involving dismissal of Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah for involvement in (June 17) Model Town carnage. He was restored briefly afterwards after a committee ‘found’ him not guilty.
Can anyone forget tirade of senior PML-N leader and diehard Nawaz Sharif ‘loyalist’ Mushahidullah that led to his party making him a scapegoat. However after a little while, he was taken on board the bandwagon to continue puking venom against the quarters he thinks do not like the PM Sharif.
The vituperation by Mehmood Khan Achakzai is also fresh in people’s memory that earned him ‘gracious attention’ from Nawaz Sharif. Standing in line is JUI-F chief Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman—a major ally of Nawaz Sharif. The JUI-F chief, who showed his real side by cracking indecent jokes in a public rally consisting of mostly youths, toed the same line of Achakzai.
Last but not the least, the PML-N government allowed a banned organization to flout effective Section-144 by holding a public rally in Islamabad—a city where activists of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were brutally baton-charged while they were holding a Youth Convention under a large marquee. The PTI girls also were mishandled by security force that is directly in control of the interior ministry.
There are reports that Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan met the leaders of a proscribed outfit prior to that day.
It should be noted here that Prime Minister House on Saturday issued a statement, “Evidence available so far points to a lapse on part of Information Minister, who has been directed to step down from office to enable holding of an independent and detailed inquiry.”
Analysts dressed down the word ‘lapse’ saying how a deliberate attempt can be termed as ‘an inadvertent mistake’. How was it proved that it was a mere lapse?
The analysts also pointed out that the government seeks to normalize strained relations with Pakistan Army. That is why, it rejected the leaks in the first place and termed it as “the planted story” related to the National Security Committee and National Action Plan meetings and without mincing the matter declared it “a breach of national security”.
Meantime, at least seven government functionaries including a Punjab MPA and a Punjab government officer have been prohibited to leave the country until the inquiry committee finishes its investigations and submits final findings.
The disputed report came into media limelight after Corps Commanders chaired by General Raheel Sharif decried it on October 14. The Army Chief called on PM Nawaz Sharif and conveyed to him serious reservations of top brass over the national security breach.
Nawaz Sharif’s aides including Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Ch. Nisar Ali Khan and Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday (Oct 27) met Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif at the Army House.
Pakistan Army’s public relations office said the government delegation briefed the COAS about the progress of investigation and recommendations related to the planted story.
Commenting on these meetings, Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid says, “Nawaz Sharif had held such meetings with Pervez Musharraf too in his critical final days.”
Commenting on the new move to gradually tune out the issue, Sheikh Rashid predicted the PML-N’s bid to make Pervaiz Rashid a scapegoat will not be accepted probably, adding the security institutions regard Nawaz Sharif and his close aides as untrustworthy.
And, this general perception about Nawaz Sharif in the military is abiding and has nothing to do with whether General Raheel Sharif stays or not, Sheikh Rashid underscored.
Welcoming the ouster of Pervaiz Rashid, Imran Khan tweeted on micro-blogging website, “A courtier of Nawaz Sharif has been ousted and the other (referring to Defence Minister Khawaja Asif) has fled abroad. Meantime, others have started trembling.”
Sources said Khawaja Asif will also be forced to resign as his name is also being linked to the leaks.
Analysts are of the opinion that the very fact that the key ministers of Nawaz government divulge highly vital state secrets and sensitive classified reports saps the government of its legal and moral grounds to stay in power.
I also will look forward to daily Dawn to come forward and help inquiry committee fix the culpability for breach.
Meantime, Pakistan People’s Party held a meeting in Karachi and demanded Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to step down in connection with non-implementation of National Action Plan.
Addressing the media after a meeting headed by party chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, PPP leader Aitezaz Ahsan spelled out the Prime Minister has lost foothold and his government hangs in balance as shown through his decision to sack Pervaiz Rashid.
Criticizing the interior minister, Farhatullah Babar also pointed out that Nisar held meeting with operatives of a banned outfit.
The fact that a banned organization held a large rally in the open in Islamabad with impunity while peaceful political workers attending a youth convention under a roof were severely manhandled shows that the government itself is to blame, not Pakistan Army.