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Saturday, April 13, 2024

ISPR’s new clarification: Saving democracy or compromising national security?

Amid speculations of widening rifts between the civilian and military leadership over Dawn Leaks, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Wednesday stated that the issue has been resolved.

The closure of the matter was conveyed in the press release this time on the ISPR website – the media wing of the Pakistan Military:

“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 Accordingly, ISPR’s said Twitter post stands withdrawn and has become infructuous.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.”


Earlier, in a tweet on 29th April, the Inquiry Committee Report was deemed as “incomplete and not commensurate with the recommendation and hence was rejected.

Read more: Why DG ISPR’s Tweet saves the Army?

The government had in its earlier notification of April 29 dismissed Tariq Fatemi from his portfolio of Foreign Affairs  and Rao Tehseen over the leak which was deemed pertaining to national security, besides earlier relieving Pervez Rasheed of his duties as Information Minister.

However, all three of them rejected the allegations and felt hard done by and were generally seen as scapegoats by the public and opposition politicians. This raised eyebrows on the government’s sincerity in protecting the “real culprits”. Further doubts were created when the government chastised the public rejection via a tweet. Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar called the tweet ‘poisonous’ for democracy of Pakistan.

Though analysts criticized the military for overstepping and showing utter disregard for democratic values, the DG ISPR’s tweet laid speculations of a compromise on national security to rest. In other words, the popular image of the army as the guardian of national security remained largely intact.

After today’s press release followed by the media briefing of DG ISPR, Major General Asif Ghafoor the pendulum has swung and it is to be seen how the public and army jawans will take the matter.

Read more: Dawn leaks scandal nearing its resolution?

In response to questions, Major General Asif Ghafoor expressed his regrets on what happened after his tweet last month.

“Everything that happened after the press release shouldn’t have had happened. The objective of ISPR press release was not making two sides,” he said

He lauded the efforts of the government in eliminating the civil-military tiff.

The military’s damaged credibility in times of threats to National Security

The withdrawal of the earlier tweet came short while after a meeting between Army chief, DG ISI, Prime Minister and Interior Minister, again bringing the deal conspiracies to the fore. The sensitivity of the story by Cyril Almeda was too grave a dent to the Pakistani narrative. Hence, many are considering it as a compromise.  Doubts are raised because the new notification is a reiteration of the one which was rejected last month.

Aitzaz Ahsan, a formidable legal expert, and Senate leader of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) berated the army and called upon General Ghafoor to resign.

“The Pakistan Army spokesperson should have resigned rather than take back his tweet. Maryam and the name of the media cell was not taken hence she has been rescued,” he said.

Sherry Rehman, PPP claimed the three men were fall guys rather than actual culprits.

Chairman PTI, Imran Khan condemned the manner in which the case was closed, calling it as dualism in the implementation of law and saying it was not a matter between the army and government to decide. He talks of a settlement rather like a mukh mukha has happened in which the rest of the country has been left out in the cold.

“DawnLeaks issue was never about army & government. It was about national security. The whole nation now needs to know what was “settled”,” Khan tweeted.

He further called upon the government to make the report public.

Read more: Government sticking to its guns: Dawn leaks matter resolved

The optics are against the military establishment. While many may term this as a triumph of democracy, the sudden resolution of a national security matter, according to a majority may very well be deemed as a compromise. At a time when Pakistani borders are heating up, even a slight mistrust between the people and the armed forces is not an ideal scenario.