Cyril Almeida – The story of clarifications and rebuttals
In the last few days, the Pakistani nation has been subjected to a rather bumpy ride as concerns the whole ‘Dawn – Cyril Almeida – DG ISI – CM Punjab fi asco’.
The leaks, blames, clarifications, rebuttals,Twitter trends and finally the ECL episode projected a shameful picture of Pakistan’s political landscape to the West.
Previously, the international community was likely to appreciate Pakistan’s government and military for letting go off their differences and trying to curb terrorism in Punjab, but after Dawn published Cyril Almeida’s controversial report of the All parties Conference held on October 7th, the entire narrative of Pakistan’s seriousness in eliminating terrorism has gone down the drain.
I have been watching these events closely as they unfolded and can say with conviction that this entire hullabaloo is anything but normal.
The insanely abnormal details attached to every phenomenon of this debacle require investigation and questions to be answered. Consequently, I pooled all my sources and resources and like Eugene Francois Vidocq, kick-started my own investigation to find facts.
Information started pouring in from various places and ‘whistleblowers’; these revelations show the filthy reality of our country’s politics and the distrust that dominates civil-military relations.
The first shocker came to me a few days back while I was leaving office, I received a call from a friend who wanted me to meet someone from the Prime Minister House in connection to Cyril Almeida’s report in Dawn.
I agreed to meet him at a public place and 3 hours later I was sitting in my car parked in the famous Kohsar market of Islamabad.
A while later a smartly dressed young man from the Prime Minister House arrived and sat in the car. While sipping coffee, he disclosed that the news of CM Punjab Shehbaz Sharif asking tough questions to DG ISI was in fact true but with slight alterations. He said that it was DG ISI who had addressed CM Punjab Shehbaz Sharif while making a ‘by-the-way’ sort of remark regarding Pathankot attack.
The remark was not at all offensive and neither did Shehbaz Sharif take it as one, the story was however given a hundred and eighty degrees twist and leaked to Dawn later that evening.
He went on to say that Cyril Almeida was just a poor guy who fell for a story of gargantuan magnitude and does not deserve the daily dose of bashing he is receiving on Twitter from ‘fake accounts’ since his sources are ‘credible’ and ‘highly placed’, but their stories were ‘twisted’ and full of mal-intent.
I asked the young man whether he knew who actually leaked this story to Dawn, he revealed that it was not one person, but a handful of them.
My next question was obvious, I wanted names. He looked outside to make sure no one was near the car, then wrote down something on a piece of paper, handed it over to me, and left.
I looked at the piece of paper and was flabbergasted to read the names ‘Mohiuddin Wani’ and ‘Fawad Hassan Fawad’. The interesting thing to note here was that Mohiyuddin Wani is Prime Minister’s Press Secretary, he is the same Mohiyuddin Wani who was demoted by CM Punjab Shehbaz Sharif from being Chief Secretary to OSD.
There had been a lot of hue and cry over his demotion and the news was covered by the entire electronic and print media.
It was later reported that Information Minister Pervez Rasheed took Wani to the Prime Minister and after assurances that he will prove to be a faithful servant in future, he was installed as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Press Secretary.
As for Fawad Hassan Fawad, the only thing worth mentioning in his resume is that he works in Maryam Nawaz’s notorious Social Media cell which has been known for creating and supporting the rift between the civil and military leadership. Both names mentioned above do make sense since both are performing duties in ‘media’ , the domain inside PM Office.
At this point two questions need to be answered,the first question that comes to mind is who could have instructed these two ‘servants’ to leak this twisted story to poor Cyril Almeida since one of them reports to the PM himself and the other to Maryam Nawaz. This definitely raises everyone’s eyebrows.
The second logical question is why would the PM’s Press Secretary and Mayram Nawaz’s Social Media head try to create misunderstandings between DG ISI and CM Punjab at a time when General Raheel Sharif is about to leave Office and a new Army Chief is soon to hold Office.
I would prefer to leave the answers to these questions to the imagination of the readers.
This was one aspect of my personal investigation streak, the significance of the situation demanded some further fact finding to establish what happened at Dawn.
It took a lot of effort and intercession through various sources but proved fruitful in the end, from what I learnt from reliable sources is that the Dawn beat reporter who covered the All Parties Conference on October 7th, was completely unaware of the fact that what he is reporting will be published but with a lot of masala.
Secondly the Resident Editor of Dawn (Islamabad) Arifa Noor was also kept in dark about the roller coaster ride Cyril Almeida was about to embark upon. She was reportedly ‘surprised’ and ‘aggrieved’ when she read Cyril’s over- adventurous ramblings in the mornings.
Most people would understand the ‘secretive’ nature attached to such stories and the need-to-know environment these create, but journalistic ethics demands following the chain of organizational hierarchy. This chain is bypassed when owners of a newspaper have vested interests in a story and release standing instructions ignoring the sanctity of professional journalism.
This entire episode needs to be investigated at all levels, instead of putting a journalist on Exit Control List, the perpetrators who leaked contents of a High Level meeting focused should be exposed and brought to justice.
Cyril Almeida has been put on the Exit Control List by the Ministry of Interior, this makes the Nawaz Govt look desperate to prove that they have nothing to do with the leak.
Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency ISI should, if it deems appropriate, investigate this matter on its own since its own reputation is on the line.
Every Pakistani wants to see a prosperous Pakistan and that is only possible when its civil and military leadership are on one page and black sheep who try to create divide between the two are isolated and eliminated.
–Areesha Mir (Lahore)
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