Pakistan Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed stepped down on Saturday, following a Dawn report on a secret government-military exchange in which the Army was allegedly told to crack down on militant groups in the country. Rasheed (above centre) was reportedly told to step down during an inquiry into the source for the article in the Pakistani publication.
A statement from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s office said, “Evidence available so far points to a lapse on part of the information minister, who has been directed to step down from the office to enable holding of an independent and detailed inquiry.”
After the report was published, Pakistan had issued a travel ban on journalist Cyril Almeida who had reported the story. The government lifted the ban after it faced heavy criticism for it, and said the stay on his travel was done as he faced an inquiry.
Pakistan had denied the report of an “extraordinary verbal confrontation” between the country’s civilian government and military. Dawn, however, stood by Almeida and its story even after Islamabad denied it several times.
According to the article in question, the civilian government had a face-off with the director general of Pakistan’s spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence, Rizwan Akhtar, during a recent meeting. It had also warned the military that Pakistan risked being isolated internationally unless it cracked down on terrorism and militancy.
The report was published on September 18, a little under three weeks after the militant attack on the Indian Army camp in Kashmir’s Uri sector, which killed 19 soldiers. On September 29, the Army conducted surgical strikes along the Line of Control with Pakistan, which the neighbouring country denied as cross-border firing.