Pakistan suspends information minister over leaked media report

The report by Almeida had written about PM Nawaz Sharif's confrontation with the army intelligence chief accusing him of protecting jihadist groups. Photograph:( Getty )

Islamabad, Pakistan Oct 30, 2016, 03.42 AM (IST)

The Pakistan government on Saturday asked for information minister Pervaiz Rasid's resignation over a leaked media report in the Dawn that reported a heated standoff between the army and the government, Reuters reported today. 

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's office said Rashid, a key minister of the cabinet, will remain suspended until an inquiry established whether he was the purported source of the high level information leak to the publication. 

"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," a statement by the prime minister's office said.

“Pervaiz Rasheed was responsible for the information department and he is temporarily suspended from his post until investigations conclude," PM spokeperson Musadiq Malik added.

The October 6 report, written by journalist Cyril Almeida who faced a brief travel ban, cited a rift between the Pakistan army and the government. The article claimed that the Prime Minister had confronted the army's intelligence chief and warned the agency not to shield banned militant groups. 

The report soured relations between Sharif's party and the military, the government and diplomatic sources alleged, Reuters reported today. 

The ban on Almeida was lifted after the PM's office issued a warning against publishing reports "against the national interest". 

The committee set up to investigate the leak comprises of senior officers from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the most powerful intelligence agency in Pakistan, Military Intelligence and Intelligence Bureau, Reuters said. 

The military on Friday said top PML-N leaders - including finance minister, interior minister, and Sharif's brother - met the army chief Raheel Sharif, who is not related to the prime minister, to discuss the Dawn leak. The head of ISI was also present. 

(WION with inputs from Reuters)