PM withdraws Tariq Fatemi’s portfolio, notification issued

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The federal cabinet division on Saturday issued a notification, ordering the withdrawal of the portfolio of Foreign Affairs from the Prime Minister’s Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi.

“In terms of rule 4(6) of the Rules of Business, 1973, the Prime Minister has been pleased to withdraw the portfolio of Foreign Affairs, with immediate effect, from Mr Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister with the status of Minister of State,” the notification read.

Earlier today, an order released by the PM Office said that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had approved the recommendations of the Dawn leaks Inquiry committee.

“The Prime Minister, having considered the findings of the Committee as to its terms of reference, is pleased to approve its recommendations in para 18 of the report,” read an order released by the PM Office.

The order said that Rao Tehsin Ali, the principal information officer at the Information Ministry, would be proceeded against under the E&D rules 1973 on the charges based on the report findings.

Later in the evening, Establishment Division issued a notification, transferring Principal Information Officer Press Information Department Rao Tehseen and asking him to report to the Division immediately.

It added that the role of the editor of Dawn Newspaper, Zaffar Abbas, and reporter Cyril Almeida will be referred to the All Pakistan Newspaper Association (APNS) for necessary disciplinary action to be taken against them.

The order also said that the APNS will be asked to develop a code of conduct for the media, “especially when dealing with issues relating to security of Pakistan and to ensure that stories on issues of national importance and security are published by abiding to basic journalistic and editorial norms”.

But, shortly after the government’s announcement, the military’s media Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) issued a short statement saying that Army rejects the government notification and that it is “incomplete and not in line with recommendations by the Inquiry Board”.

How did it start?
An English-language daily, Dawn, had published the story on October 6, last year, in which journalist Cyril Almeida had written about an alleged civil-military rift during a National Security Committee (NSC) meeting over the issue of tackling jihadi outfits.

The story stirred a major controversy last year, resulting in resignation of Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed and Almeida coming under fire.

An inquiry committee was formed comprising one member each from the ISI, MI and IB, Secretary Establishment, Tahir Shahbaz, Ombudsman Punjab Najam Saeed, and an FIA director.

The inquiry committee in its report had placed blame on Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi and Principal Information Officer at the Press Information Department Rao Tehsin, sources had earlier told Geo News.

The report stated that the publishing of the story was a failure on part of some government institutions including Information Ministry and Foreign Ministry.

PM Office order
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved on Saturday the recommendations of the Dawn leaks Inquiry committee, withdrawing the portfolio of Foreign Affairs from his Special Assistant Tariq Fatemi, according to an order of PM Office.

The executive said that Rao Tehsin Ali, the principal information officer at the Information Ministry, would also be sanctioned, adding the editor of Dawn Newspaper, Zaffar Abbas, and reporter Cyril Almeida will be referred to the All Pakistan Newspaper Association (APNS) “for necessary disciplinary action.”

The order also said that the APNS will be asked to develop a code of conduct for the media, “especially when dealing with issues relating to security of Pakistan and to ensure that stories on issues of national importance and security are published by abiding to basic journalistic and editorial norms”.

Army’s reaction
Reacting to the statement, the Pakistan Army rejected and said it was incomplete and not in line with the recommendations by the inquiry board.

The Army announced the rejection in a tweet sent out by DG ISPR Major-General Asif Ghafoor from his official account: “Notification on Dawn Leak is incomplete and not in line with recommendations by the Inquiry Board. Notification is rejected.”

Only interior ministry can issue notification: Nisar
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said that PM Office does not have the right to issue a notification; only Interior Ministry can issue it. “A non-issue has been turned into an issue, he remarked.

He said, the notification “will be according to the unanimous recommendations of the [Dawn Leaks inquiry] committee.”

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