Monitor on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan | April 2017


This monitor is meant to identify key developments during the month on Civil Military Relations in Pakistan with selected high-profile international developments included occasionally. In this issue:

1) The DG ISPR Tweet on the Letter by PMO

2) Initial Civil Military Disagreement on Dawn ‘Leaks’

3) Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar’s Comments on the POF Labour Day Ceremony

4) Clarification by the DG ISPR on Military’s Stance on the Panama Papers Case Judgment

5) Membership of the JIT in Panama Case and Senator Aitzaz Ahsan’s Comments

6) Former COAS Gen. (R) Raheel Sharif Leaves for Saudi Arabia to head IMAFT

7) PTI Chairman Mr. Imran Khan talks about his meeting with COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa

8) Premier-COAS Interactions

9) Resignation of Afghan Minister of Defence and Afghan Army Chief

10) Indonesian Military Chief Reproached by the Indonesian President

The DG ISPR Tweet on the Letter by PMO

The DG ISPR Tweet on the leaked letter of the PMO on the Dawn Leaks Inquiry Committee

The issue of ‘Dawn Leaks’ Inquiry hit a new high on April 29, 2017, after a letter of the Prime Minister Office on the Dawn Leaks Inquiry Committee appeared on the social media and was picked up by various TV channels.

The letter signed by the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, marked to the Secretary Interior and copied to the Cabinet Secretary, Secretary Establishment and Secretary Information communicated the Prime Minister’s approval of the withdrawal of the portfolio of the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi and proceedings under Efficiency and Discipline Rules 1973 against Rao Tehseen Ali, Principal Information Officer (PIO) of the Ministry of Information. The same day, DG ISPR Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor tweeted, ‘ Notification on Dawn Leak is incomplete and not in line with recommendations by the Inquiry Board. Notification is rejected .’[1]

After this tweet was posted, Minister for Interior, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan held a press conference in which he said, ‘ institutions don’t talk to each other by tweets ‘ and characterised tweets as ‘ deadly poison for Pakistan’s democracy, our system and justice.’ He said that the notification for the ‘Dawn Leaks’ Report is to be issued by the Interior Ministry and not the PM Office and that the notification ‘ will be according to the unanimous recommendations of the [Dawn Leaks inquiry] committee .’[2]

On April 30, 2017, media reports announced that a meeting of the Prime Minister with his close associates was held in Lahore to discuss the ISPR tweet.

On May 01, 2017, Punjab Law Minister, Rana Sanaullah stated that the Government had decided to make the operative part of the ‘Dawn Leaks’ report public and the notification will be issued by the Ministry of Interior.[3]

PILDAT believes that the following points with regards to the DG ISPR Tweet on the ‘Dawn Leaks’ issue need to be considered:

1. The use of the word ‘rejected’ and the manner in which the Tweet was phrased was inappropriate. Moreover, the Pakistan Army’s public rejection of the letter issued by the Prime Minister’s Office will only go on to reinforce the image, already held in certain sections of the international community, that the Armed forces of Pakistan are free from civilian oversight. Hence, in the larger interest of the country and to further avoid harming the state of relations between the civilian institutions and the armed forces, the ISPR Tweet of April 29, 2017 should at least be withdrawn or a part of the Tweet should be revised in its wording. (Note: On May 10, ISPR Press Release announced the withdrawal of its tweet of April 29; detail and analysis will be covered in PILDAT’s monitor of the month of May)

2. Most of the controversy has emanated because the agreed report has not been made pubic. Therefore, we urge the Government to make the complete report public barring those parts that may threaten national security or at least its recommendations be made public without further loss of time.

3. Both sides should address the obstacles and impediments in the way of addressing similar issues. While such an institutional arrangement existed in the form of the National Security Committee (NSC), it has remained largely dysfunctional. Whatever the reasons for its dormancy may be, whether they include lack of trust or interest by the Government or the Military leadership, they need to be immediately addressed and the NSC should be activated as the principal forum for addressing security issues requiring civil-military consultation.

4. In an honourable, democratic, sovereign country like Pakistan, the final authority rests with its elected representatives. All institutions of the State should, in practical terms, demonstrate the acceptance of this position in full conformity to the constitution of the country.

5. Democracy does not only mean elections, but it means inclusive government in which views of all segments are taken into consideration and decision-making is collective and institutional. An increased tendency for more personalized and whimsical decision-making has been observed in the past few years. Even at one point, the Supreme Court had intervened and stated in its judgment that ‘ the Prime Minister is the head of the Cabinet but he can neither supplant nor replace it. He cannot exercise its powers by itself. [4] Both the Federal and the Provincial Governments must ensure that institutionalized decision-making takes place through their cabinets while political parties should also use institutional forums for their policy decisions.

6. Lastly, the Parliament and the Provincial Assemblies should also exercise their role of effective oversight in making sure the elected Government are adhering to the principles of democracy and good governance.

Timeline of the case of DAWN Leaks



October 06, 2016

Dawn published the story ‘Exclusive: Act against militants or face international isolation, civilians tell military’ which Dawn claimed was ‘based on conversations with Dawn of individuals present in the crucial meetings (that) week.’ [5] In the leaked meeting, a verbal confrontation between Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and then DG ISI Lt. Gen. Rizwan Akhtar was narrated in which Chief Minister claimed that security establishment works behind the scenes to set certain groups free whenever action is taken against them. In the end, Prime Minister Sharif directed Lt. Gen. Akhtar to ‘tour the provinces at the direction of the prime minister, issue fresh orders to ISI sector commanders and meet with provincial apex committees to chalk out specific actions that need to be taken in various provinces’ and Lt. Gen. Akhtar ‘readily agreed.’ [6]

The same day, the first rejoinder was issued by the Spokesman of the Prime Minister saying the story is ‘an amalgamation of fiction and half-truths which too are invariably reported out of context.’ [7]

Another rejoinder was issued by the Prime Minister Office the same day, while the previous one was initially deleted from the website, and it characterized the Dawn news story as ‘fabricated.’ However, at present only the first rejoinder is present in the website.

Meanwhile, the office of the Chief Minister of Punjab also denied the comments attributed to Mr. Shahbaz Sharif in the news story. Dismissing it as a baseless story, he emphasized that besides his respect for the institution of the armed forces, on an individual level he also had ‘the highest respect for the present DG ISI for his professionalism, commitment to duty and sincerity of purpose.’[8]

October 10, 2016

A meeting was held at the Prime Minister House, chaired by the PM, and attended by the Federal Minister for Interior, CM Punjab, the COAS, and the DG ISI.

Presser released after the meeting stated that ‘the participants of the meeting expressed concern over the publication of a fabricated news story in the Daily Dawn pertaining to security issues purportedly discussed in a meeting of the National Security Committee in the last week and the participants were unanimous that the published story was clearly violative of universally acknowledged principles of reporting on National Security issues and has risked the vital interest through inclusion of inaccurate and misleading contents which had no relevance to actual discussion and fact.’

October 11, 2016

Mr. Cyril Almeida’s name was placed on the Exit Control List (ECL).

October 14, 2016

A press release issued by the ISPR following a Corps Commander Conference ‘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.’ [9]

October 15, 2016

After a meeting of the Federal Minister of Interior with the representatives of APNS, CPNE and PFUJ, Mr. Almeida’s name was removed from the ECL.

October 28, 2016

The Federal Ministers for Interior and Finance, along with the Chief Minister of the Punjab ‘call on‘ the COAS at the GHQ. According to the Press Release issued by the ISPR, the meeting took place between 4:00-5:30PM and stated that ‘ the delegation briefed the COAS on the progress of investigation and recommendations related to planted story of National Security breach of 6 Oct 2016′ . The DG ISI was also present on the occasion.

October 29, 2016

A Press Release was issued by PMO stating that ‘ the planted story related to the NSC and NAP meetings published in Daily Dawn on 6th October was a breach of national security. Evidence available so far points to a lapse on the part of Information Minister, who has been directed to step down from office to enable holding of an independent and detailed inquiry. An inquiry committee including senior officers of ISI, MI and IB is being formed by the Government of Pakistan to clearly apportion blame, identify interests and motives and expose all those responsible for this episode for stern action in the national interest ‘.

The seven-member committee formed to investigate Dawn leaks was headed by Justice Retd. Aamer Raza Khan included Establishment Secretary, Punjab Ombudsman, FIA Punjab Director, and one representative each from the ISI, MI, and the IB. According to initial news reports, the committee was given 30 days to submit its report. [10]

March 09, 2017

A Press Release was issued by ISPR following a Corps Commanders’ conference which stated that in the conference, ‘Dawn leak issue was also discussed.’


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