Islamabad—The federal government is considering to give additional charge of Information Ministry to Ahsan Iqbal, who is already serving as the federation’s Minister for Planing and Development.
Sources in PM secretariat said that the federal government is considering Ahsan Iqbal’s nomination for the Information Ministry. A senior government official said.
A PML-N leader also confirmed report, saying Ahsan Iqbal can be given additional charge for the said ministry pending completion of ‘newsgate’ inquiry involving ex-information minister Pervaiz Rashid.
The government on Saturday sent its information minister packing after preliminary investigations established a ‘lapse’ on his part vis-à-vis a ‘planted news story’ about a top level huddle on national security.
The government refuted the story published in English-language daily Dawn on October 6 as ‘false and fabricated’ not once, not twice but thrice. The repeated denials, however, failed to satisfy the military which called for unmasking those who had planted the story.
“Evidence available so far points to a lapse on part of the information minister, who has been directed to step down from office to enable holding of an independent and detailed inquiry,” says a statement issued by the prime minister’s office.
“The planted story related to the NSC (National Security Committee) and NAP (National Action Plan) meetings published in daily Dawn on 6th October was a breach of national security,” it adds.
In its first formal reaction on October 14, the top military commanders voiced serious concern over the ‘feeding of false and fabricated news story’, calling it a ‘breach of national security’. Premier Nawaz Sharif had tasked the interior minister with holding an inquiry into the matter. The interior minister had promised to complete the investigation within three or four days. But that didn’t happen, though the names of some officials and reporter Almeida were put on the exit control list until the completion of the inquiry. Almeida’s name was later taken off the list.
It is not immediately clear whether the military would accept the sacking of the information minister as security sources want to try those responsible for ‘planting’ the story under the Army Act – something the civilian government may not agree to.