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Nawaz Sharif’s sacked aide Tariq Fatemi rejects allegations against him in info leak case

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s sacked aide Tariq Fatemi today rejected the allegations against him after a probe into a leak of sensitive information to a newspaper that had angered the powerful army.

In a farewell letter to his colleagues, which was discreetly leaked to media, Fatemi, 72, said, “I reject recent allegations, insinuations and innuendos. Such suggestions are particularly hurtful to someone who has served Pakistan for nearly five decades with honour and dignity.”

Fatemi’s response comes as Prime Minister Sharif on Saturday sacked him from the post of special foreign affairs assistant following the findings of a committee, which probed a story on a rift between the army and the government.

Sharif approved the committee’s recommendation to remove Fatemi after he was found guilty of “leaking” information to the media about a high-level security meet.

In October, a columnist for Dawn newspaper wrote a front-page story about a rift between civilian and military leaderships over militant groups that operate from Pakistan but engage in proxy war against India and Afghanistan.

The army took strong exception to the Dawn story and relations between army and the civil government deteriorated.

The PML-N government was forced to remove then information minister Pervaiz Rasheed but a probe was also initiated at the demand of army to fix the responsibility. The report was submitted to the prime minister last week.

Rejecting the allegations against him. Fatemi said, “Over the years, I have had to deal with many sensitive matters, becoming privy to some of the most highly classified information, on issues of national security,” he said.

He further wrote: “I have also had the honour of working directly under distinguished diplomats, both professional as well as political appointees, all of whom reposed their highest trust in my abilities and particularly so, in my lifelong commitment to discretion. You would appreciate that taking due care and caution become a second nature in our professional careers.”

He expressed passion to continue to serve Pakistan.

Fatemi was born in Dhaka in 1944 and joined the foreign service in 1969. His career as a diplomat spans 35 years, with a number of high-profile appointments around the world, including as Pakistan’s Ambassador to United States.

After retirement in 2004, he joined Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and cultivated close ties with Nawaz Sharif. He was appointed a special assistance on foreign affairs with the status of a federal minister in 2013.

His removal is considered as a major embarrassment to the government and a shock to Fatemi.

After the report, Sharif had also ordered action against Rao Tehsin Ali, Principal Information Officer of the Ministry of Information, under disciplinary rules.
PTI