Tariq Fatemi rejects inquiry committee allegations against him in farewell letter

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi has rejected the allegations levelled against him in connection with the inquiry into a Dawn story.

In a farewell letter (bottom of the article) leaked by a source in the Foreign Office, Fatemi 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 Nawaz Sharif on Saturday issued directives for his removal as special assistant in line with the recommendations of the committee set up to hold an inquiry into a story published in Dawn last year.

Hours after the Prime Minister’s Office issued the directives, however, Inter-Services Public Relations said the Army had rejected the notification, calling it ‘incomplete’.

“Notification on Dawn Leak is incomplete and not in line with recommendations by the Inquiry Board. Notification is rejected,” the ISPR chief tweeted.

In the letter addressed to his colleagues at Pakistan’s foreign missions, 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.

“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.”

Fatemi thanked his fellow Foreign Service officers for their support, adding: “Be that as it may, my commitment to Pakistan, my passion for diplomacy and my association with the Foreign Service family will continue.”

He said his nearly four years long stint at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs “enhanced the esteem and respect that i have always had for our country’s diplomats… who bear the rigors of serving with limited resources in difficult environments, defending and promoting the nation’s interests, against huge odds”.

The government had formed a committee in November last year to probe the October 6, 2016 story, which reported the details of a high-level civil-military meeting discussing the issue of banned outfits operating in Pakistan.

The Prime Minister’s Office had initially rejected the story, but the military had mounted pressure to demand a probe into the matter to determine those involved in disclosing the details of the meeting.

The committee subsequently initiated an inquiry to identify the persons responsible for disclosing the details of the meeting to Cyril Almeida, who wrote the story.

In an Editor’s note, published on October 11, 2016, Dawn had clarified its position and stated on the record that the story “was verified, cross-checked and fact-checked.”

The publication of the story led to the sacking of Pervaiz Rasheed as information minister, as the government felt Rasheed should have told the newspaper not to publish it.

Almeida’s name was also placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) after the publication of the story, but later removed by the interior ministry after human rights and media organisations condemned the move.

Who is Tariq Fatemi?
Tariq Fatemi, 72, was born in Dhaka in 1944. Fatemi holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in Arts.

He joined the foreign service at the age of 29 in October 1969. His career as a diplomat spans 35 years, with a number of high-profile appointments around the world.

1970-1974: Third Secretary, Moscow.
1974-1979: Second Secretary, New York.
1979-1981: First Secretary, Moscow.
1981-1986: Director General of Foreign Minister’s Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad.
1986-1991: Minister/Deputy Head of Mission, Washington DC.
1991-1993: Minister/Deputy Head of Mission, Beijing.
1996-1998: Additional Secretary in charge of Americas and Europe.
1998-1999: Additional Secretary in PM office in charge of Defence, Defence production and Foreign Affairs
1999: Appointed as Federal Secretary.
Oct 1999 – Dec 1999: Ambassador to United States
He spent the remaining years of his career fulfilling his ambassadorial responsibilities in countries such as Jordan, Belgium and Luxembourg.

His last appointment was between 2002 to 2004 as Ambassador to the European Union (EU) in Brussels.

Upon retirement, Fatemi joined the PML-N, assisting the party on foreign policy matters.

In the absence of a foreign minister, both Sartaj Aziz and Tariq Fatemi played a crucial role advising Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on matters pertaining to foreign affairs. Before he was asked to resign, Fatemi was serving as special assistant to the PM on foreign affairs.

Apart from his illustrious foreign service appointments, Fatemi has held teaching positions at the Foreign Service Academy, the National Defence University and the Administrative Staff College, among other educational institutions.

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