ISLAMABAD: The country’s print media watchdog on Thursday resolved that the committee constituted by the government to investigate the source of the leak behind Dawn’s Oct 6 story should not proceed against the newspaper or insist that it disclose its source.
The unanimous view expressed by the Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) is a landmark opinion that will offer moral and ethical support to journalists working in the country.
The meeting was attended by representatives of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) — the main stakeholders with regards to print journalism in the country.
Presided over by PCP chairman and former Balochistan advocate general Dr Salahuddin Mengal, the meeting discussed the formation of the committee, constituted by the federal government in the wake of the controversy following the publication of the story, headlined ‘Act against militants or face international isolation, civilians tell military’, which appeared in Dawn on Oct 6.
According to the PCP press statement, the council “unanimously resolved that the probe committee… should not proceed against the newspaper or its staff… [or] insist upon divulgence of its source of information in the conduct of [the] probe”.
It noted that such matters fell within the council’s jurisdiction and should have been brought before it in the event of any grievance, as envisaged in the Press Council of Pakistan Ordinance, adding that it was “unfortunate that neither the government nor any of its departments referred this matter to the [council]”.
The meeting was also attended by acting PCP Registrar Ejaz Hussain Baqri, former CPNE president Mujibur Rehman Shami, CPNE members Aamer Mehmood, Anwar Sajidi, Wamiq Zuberi and Ali Kazi, APNS’s Kazi Asad Abid and PFUJ’s Ibrahim Khan, Iqbal Jaffri, Khurshid Tanweer, Nasir Zaidi and Dr Shah Jahan Syed, among others.
Also on Thursday, the committee formed to probe the Dawn leak held its first formal meeting. According to an official statement, the meeting was chaired by retired Justice Aamer Raza Khan.
The meeting unanimously decided to designate one of its members as the focal person who will interact with the media, “as matter under consideration is of national security”. However, the statement did not identify who that focal person would be.
The committee was also briefed by Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. According to an interior ministry statement, the minister brought the committee up-to-date with all the progress made in the inquiry so far during the hour-long briefing, which was given at the committee’s request.