Pakistan has said that sacked information minister, Pervaiz Rashid, should have stopped Dawn journalist Cyril Almeida from writing a story that highlighted a rift between the country’s civilian government and the army at a high-level security meeting on action against terrorists.
In a face-saving exercise, Pakistan had sacked Rashid on Saturday, saying the evidence suggested that the minister had leaked sensitive information about a “high-profile national security meeting”.
On Sunday, Pakistan Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar told reporters: “Some documented and undocumented records involving Pervaiz Rasheed say the reporter contacted him for comments about a story regarding (Punjab Chief Minister) Shahbaz Sharif and the ISI chief”. Nisar’s statement was widely published in Pakistani media today.
Nisar said that Rashid should have stopped the journalist from publishing the story in “national interest”.
Nisar said that the information minister had summoned Cyril Almeida to his office. Dawn reported today Nisar as saying: “Pervaiz Rasheed called the reporter into his office. Through my entire investigation… I reached the conclusion that Pervaiz Rasheed should have told the reporter that this story is wrong, ‘Do not publish this story in view of national interest’.”
Nisar said that Rashid should have talked to Dawn editor Zaffar Abbas, Dawn’s management or the government. “He (Rashid) should have understood the implications of the story and stopped it,” he said.
The Dawn story had quoted Pakistani Punjab’s Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif as saying as to how the Pakistani security establishment work behind the scene to set any arrested terrorist free. It also highlighted how there were concerns in Pakistan over the country’s global diplomatic isolation.
Since the publication of the story, Pakistan has claimed it was false.