Amid the current political turmoil a major development took place on another front. Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed resigned from his position as Minister for Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage.
A statement issued by the Prime Minister’s office clarifying the Minister’s resignation said: ‘Evidence available so far pints to a lapse on part of the information minister, who has been directed to step down from the office to enable holding of an independent and detailed inquiry.’
Just over a week ago the Prime Minister had allowed Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan a ‘free hand’ to probe and expose those behind leaking the controversial story. No details of the investigations have been shared as of yet, despite the fact that the Interior Minister vowed to expose the person behind the leak in a matter of days. Another important development that occurred recently was the meeting between Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, the meeting was requested by the government in which the government trio shared details of the on going investigations into the leaked story. Whether the name of Information Minister came up during the investigation lead by the Interior Minister is not known as of yet.
There has been friction between civil and military leadership since the October 6 story in Dawn by Cyril Almeida. It is now widely agreed the matter is of a national security breach and further the story strengthened the ‘enemy’s narrative’. The story was published at a crucial time when the military is not only involved in a battle with terrorists inside the country but also faces growing threat on both eastern and western border from India and Afghanistan respectively.
Now, an inquiry committee comprises officials from ISI, IB and MI will investigate into the matter. A statement in this regard issued by the Prime Minister house said ‘An inquiry committee including senior officers of ISI, MI and IB is being formed by the government to apportion the blame, identify interests and motives and expose all those responsible for this episode of stern action in the national interest.’
It is also pertinent to mention that journalist Cyril Almeida who penned the news story left the country a few days ago, so it appears that investigation process will be carried out without the person who played an ‘important’ part in the entire episode.
It is hoped that this matter will be taken to logical conclusion soon but situation still remains uncertain on many other fronts; the Tehreek-e-Insaf is adamant to go ahead with their November 2 protest call, the all important issue of military’s top command is still unclear with the retirement date of Army Chief General Raheel Sharif fast approaching, the situation on the eastern border remains tense and last but not least the challenge to purge the country from the menace of terrorism is still on going.
The fabricated story has no doubt caused a rift between civil and military leadership but this won’t last if the culprits of the story leaking saga are held accountable once the investigation is completed.
The government faces some tough days ahead with multiple challenges in waiting.