An investigation committee to probe the controversial news report has been provided with the relevant documents and records, according to well placed sources.
The first-ever meeting of the committee was held in-camera in the Punjab House here where the Interior Minister informed the committee members about the progress in relation to investigation.
The investigation committee is headed by former Justice Aamer Raza and includes one member each from the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), Military Intelligence (MI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB), Secretary Establishment Tahir Shahbaz, Ombudsman Punjab Najam Saeed and Director Federal Investigation Agency-Punjab.
The committee is required to submit its report within 30 days to the Ministry of Interior which will forward it to the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Interior Minister informed the committee of his reservations on the news report and provided the committee with relevant documents and records.
The Minister briefed the committee members at their request and the briefing lasted for an hour. Federal Minister for Law and Justice Zahid Hamid also reportedly briefed the committee members about rules and regulations relating to the investigation and how the team could move forward.
The committee will record statements from some key politicians and government officials in its coming sessions, informed sources told Business Recorder.
Eighteen men were in attendance at the National Security Meeting held at the Prime Minister’s Office on October 3 under the PM’s chairmanship: (1) Ishaq Dar, Minister for Finance; (2) Nisar Ali Khan, Minister for Interior; (3) Pervaiz Rashid, the then Minister for Information; (4) General Raheel Sharif, Chief of Army Staff (5) Tariq Fatemi, Special Assistant to PM (6) Lieutenant General Nasser Khan Janjua (Retd), National Security Adviser; (7) Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar, DG ISI; (8) Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Foreign Secretary; (9) Aftab Sultan, DG IB; (10) Fawad Hasan Fawad, Secretary to PM; (11) Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, DG Military Operations; and (12) Major General Nadeem Zaki Manj, DG Military Intelligence.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif took back the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage from Pervaiz Rashid on October 29, weeks after the military’s top commanders said a ‘false and fabricated’ newspaper report breached national security. The Interior Minister in one of his recent press conferences has denied that Senator Pervaiz Rashid is under investigation.
Dawn newspaper published the story on October 6, in which journalist Cyril Almeida reported that the civil-military leadership were not on the same page with respect to dealing indigenous jihadist organisations. This drew widespread criticism with the military saying that it was a ‘planted’ report.
“The planted story related to the NSC and NAP meeting published in Daily Dawn on 6th October was a breach of national security.
Evidence available so far points to a lapse on part of Information Minister, who has been directed to step down from office to enable holding of an independent and detailed inquiry,” said the PM Office statement. “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,” it added.