Dawn Leaks Conclusion: Thanks But No Thanks

May 11, 2017 Asia , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , Pakistan

Reuters photo

 

By

Imad Zafar

The Newsgate or Dawn Leaks scandal, after creating rifts between the civil and military establishment, in addition to spreading rumors, has at last reached its conclusion.

The earlier controversial tweet from the Director General of ISPR that rejected the PM Nawaz Sharif‘s notification on this issue actually created a scenario where it implied that the civil and military establishment are at a deadlock and are confronting each other on this issue. In order to bring the temperature down the meeting between Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa actually played a vital role.

A few days after the meeting there was a press conference from the DG of ISPR in which he told the nation that his tweet was not intended to disrespect or disobey any individual or institution and that the army is satisfied on the measures taken by the civilian government, therefore the tweet is withdrawn. He also assured on behalf of his institution that the Pakistan Army will continue to support the democratic process in the country. This release from the DG of ISPR finally buried the unimportant issue of Dawn Leaks which was actually manufactured during the “Thank You” Raheel Sharif campaign. But this infamous issue of Dawn Leaks and a controversial tweet from the DG of ISPR is not a simple story that can easily be understood by a common man or citizen.

In the battles to gain authority and control over power some wars are fought behind the scenes and behind the curtains, this being one of those ugly battles. The urge from the establishment to make the government agree in giving General Raheel Sharif an extension in his tenure, the desire to control internal security policies and foreign policy and to protect the former dictator Pervez Musharraf was the actual reason behind the Dawn Leaks controversy. It was never an issue of a national security breach, but with the help of a section of electronic and print media this issue was turned into a national security breach.

This useless manipulation and exploitation of Dawn Leaks actually resulted in the government sacrificing Tariq Fatemi, a diligent and excellent foreign diplomat, and Pervaiz Rashid, the minister for information and broadcasting, who was an intellectual and well balanced professional free of any kind of hatred or extremist view. Few groups and individuals in the power corridors were expecting the Dawn Leaks issue would actually target Maryam Nawaz and that she would be barred from holding any public office as a result or, if Sharif disagrees in convicting his daughter, then he would be sent home.

Many political analysts, journalists and political parties believed it too, forgetting the fact that Sharif is the most senior politician in Pakistan and his career of 35 years in politics has earned him good support from the global establishment. It was actually impossible to throw him from power with the help of irrelevant and fabricated issues like Dawn Leaks and the Panama Papers case. The departure of Raheel Sharif and selecting Qamar Javed Bajwa as new Army chief also helped Sharif gain time and, with the new Army chief at the helm of the defense establishment, the hostility of the establishment towards Sharif ended. The new Army chief is a pro-democracy man who firmly believes in working in the specified domain instead of interfering in civilian matters, nor does he seek unnecessary media projection unlike his predecessor, but it was even difficult for the new chief to end this Dawn Leaks controversy in silence.

So the controversial tweet was actually sent deliberately to satisfy the elements of the establishment who were part of the ‘Thank you Raheel Sharif‘ campaign and for those who were actually sympathizers of Musharraf, and through this issue wanted to teach Sharif a lesson for trying to bring the former dictator and their ex-boss Musharraf into a court of law. The controversial tweet from the DG of ISPR not only satisfied the elements in the establishment but also sent a message that we are the ultimate movers and shakers in the corridors of power. It was the reaction from the civil society in Pakistan to this tweet and the negative image this created of the establishment and their institution around the world that forced the establishment to temporarily retreat. So, for the first time in the country’s history the defense establishment retracted from a position and withdrew from a stated stance, this actually unprecedented in Pakistan. This can be termed as a positive development and an indication of a strengthening democracy, civilian supremacy democracy and the Constitution of Pakistan.

But the question that needs to be answered is who made the decision to issue such a controversial tweet and now that it has been withdrawn, will the officer who tweeted be dealt with in the same way by his institution like Pervaiz Rashid and Tariq Fatemi were if they had to be sacked for disapproving the notification of an elected Prime Minister, hence undermining the democratically elected government. Anyhow this game of cat and mouse is over by sacrificing Pervaiz Rashid and Tariq Fatemi, eventually a sigh of relief for the citizen of Pakistan as hopefully now focus can be given to the real issues and war on terrorism.

As this issue has now been resolved both the civilian and defense establishment need to rethink their attitude and policies. The fight between the institutions regarding the extension of power always proves unhealthy and harmful for the country. The civilian establishment’s unnecessary efforts interfering in the defense establishment’s domain need to be stopped. On the other hand the defense establishment also needs to stop interfering or dictating to the elected governments in the domain of internal policies and foreign policy as it brings criticism to the security institutions.

An Army that is fighting a war against terrorism cannot afford criticism from the public, it in fact needs the unconditional support and respect from each and every single citizen of the country. Hopefully the new Army chief will realize this and will do his part in stopping his institution and officers from intervening in politics or dictating foreign policy to the civilian governments. The control over foreign policy in Raheel Sharif’s era did not prove fruitful, nor did his foreign tours bring any significant results. If every institution in the country performs the duties assigned to him without interfering in each other’s domains it will ultimately prove beneficial to the country.

The controversy of Dawn Leaks is buried now but has left scars that will always be shown in the political history of Pakistan. Now is the time that instead of declaring each other as traitors, conspirators or a threat to national security, the civil and military establishment should come together giving space to each other and accepting differences of opinion and criticism as part of business, so we can avoid the controversies like Dawn Leaks in future. For now it is thanks, but no thanks for withdrawing the controversial tweet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Imad Zafar

Imad Zafar

Imad Zafar is a journalist based in Lahore. He is a regular Columnist/Commentator in newspapers. He is associated with TV channels, radio, newspapers, news agencies, political, policies and media related think tanks.

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