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Pakistan army, government resolve sensitive leaks row.

Summary: Pakistan army pledges 'firm commitment' to uphold constitution following meeting with government

Mohsin Ali, Correspondent

Islamabad: A simmering irritant in civil-military relations was apparently resolved on Wednesday as the Pakistan army retracted its April 29 rejection of a notification issued from the prime minister's office.

The notice had been made in connection with an inquiry into the leak to a news organisation, last year, of sensitive details of national security meeting.

Announcing the move, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a press release stressed the army's "firm commitment" to uphold the constitution and support the democratic process - in obvious reference to critics who hinted at army defiance of the constitutional head of government.

A report in the English daily 'Dawn' published in October said civilian participants of the high-level meeting had told the military to act against militant outfits or face international isolation.

The army top brass had termed the leak a serious breach of national security.

A notification issued on April 29 from the PM's office had said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved recommendations of an inquiry committee, thereby removing his special assistant on foreign affairs Tariq Fatemi from his position and also sacking the government's principal information officer.

In a tweet posted the same day, Maj Gen Asif Gafoor, head of the ISPR had said: "Notification on Dawn Leaks is incomplete and not in line with recommendations by the Inquiry Board. Notification is rejected."

Withdrawing that tweet, reportedly following a high level civil-military meeting chaired by the prime minister the ISPR press release said: "The tweet on 29 April 2017 was not aimed at any government office or person. 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 Accordingly, ISPR's said Twitter post stands withdrawn and has become infructuous.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."

The PM's Office notification of April 29 had also said the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) had been asked to take "necessary disciplinary action" against the newspaper's editor and the concerned reporter.

The APNS was asked to develop a Code of Conduct for print media, especially when it comes to stories that deal with "issues of national importance and security".

On the heels of the controversial newspaper report in October then information minister Pervaiz Rashid lost his job as he was officially blamed for failure to prevent publication of the sensitive report.

The withdrawal of the controversial tweet by the army stirred up a new debate in media and political circles.

Addressing a news conference on Wednesday, the ISPR head regretted that in the wake of his April 29 tweet, a perception of civil-military confrontation was created. "We appreciate that the government has removed all misunderstandings," Major Gen Ghafoor said.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:May 10, 2017
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