LAHORE – An unsettling storm followed the October 6 exclusive news report in Dawn, in which Cyril Almeida said that some in the civilian government complained at a top-secret meeting that they were being asked to do more to crack down on armed groups – yet whenever law-enforcement agencies took action “the security establishment … worked behind the scenes to set the arrested free”.
The secret meeting on national security, held at PM House, was attended by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, CM Shehbaz Sharif, three senior ministers, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhary and ISI Director General (DG) Lt Gen Rizwan Akhtar.
According to Almedia’s story, the civilian government’s representatives at the meeting gave warning that Pakistan risked international isolation if the security establishment did not take the recommended course of action.
Almeida’s story came against a backdrop of heightened tension in the region following a claim by the Indian government of a cross-border “surgical strike” by army commandos on September 18, apparently in response to a deadly assault on an army post in Indian-administered Kashmir.
India blames Pakistan-based armed groups for the attack, a charge rejected by the Pakistani government.
Soon after the story went viral, raising speculations upon the relations between government and military establishment, Cyril’s name was first placed and then removed from Exit Control List.
Meanwhile, a Corps Commanders meeting at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi expressed serious concern over the leak from a security meeting. In a statement issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army top brass expressed serious concern over “feeding of false and fabricated story of an important security meeting held at PM House and viewed it as breach of national security.”
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif presided over the meeting which was attended by all corps commanders and principal staff officers.
Even as there is no visible action against the newspaper and the journalist over the leaked story, the dust isn’t settled yet. Interior Minister Chaudary Nisar Ali Khan, in a recent press conference, reiterated the government stance for further probing the issue.
However, the sources who fed Cyril Almeida are still unknown.
With government still persistent to identify the real ‘culprit’, and Dawn standing with its story and reporter, let’s see how this ugly episode of govt-media clash ends.