Army chief General Raheel Sharif called for ‘across the board accountability’ on Tuesday in order to bring solidarity, integrity and prosperity in Pakistan in an unprecedented public statement amid a ballooning controversy surrounding the Panama leaks.
The army chief made this statement during a visit to the Signal Regimental Centre Kohat. The fight against terrorism and extremism cannot bring enduring peace and stability unless the menace of corruption is uprooted, he added.
“Therefore, across the board accountability is necessary for the solidarity, integrity and prosperity of Pakistan,” Gen Raheel was quoted as saying by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a statement. “Pakistan armed forces will fully support every meaningful effort in that direction, which would ensure a better future for our next generations,” he said.
Gen Raheel’s statement came at a time when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is under pressure to come clean over charges of his family’s offshore assets. The Panama Papers claimed that the prime minister’s sons — Hussain Nawaz and Hassan Nawaz — and daughter Maryam Nawaz had offshore companies. Hussain Nawaz has admitted that he has offshore companies but insisted he has done nothing illegal.
Following the revelations, the prime minister in an address to the nation announced that an inquiry commission, led by a (retd) Supreme Court judge, would investigate the revelations.
However, the opposition parties, including Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Inasf (PTI), rejected the government’s move and instead demanded a judicial probe headed by the chief justice of Pakistan.
Political observers believe the army chief’s statement will certainly put further pressure on the PML-N government and that it is also a sign of growing tension between the civil and military leadership. The government’s reaction to the army chief’s statement is so far guarded as Defence Minister Khawja Asif found nothing wrong with Gen Raheel’s remarks while Information Minister Parvez Rashid insisted only sustainable democracy could end corruption in the country.
The government is believed to be increasingly worried over the pressure being built up not only by the opposition but also the army. The prime minister, who spent a week in London apparently for medical check-up, is expected to discuss the evolving political situation with his close aides this week.
Meanwhile, at an installation ceremony, the army chief pinned the badges of rank on the shoulders of Maj Gen Sohail Ahmed Zaidi, Signal-in-Chief, to formally install him Colonel Commandant of the Corps of Signal.
Interacting with officers, men and families of martyrs, Gen Raheel commended the extraordinary efforts of ranks of the Signals Corps in providing communication support to Operation Zarb-e-Azb.
He also appreciated the sacrifices rendered by men in uniform and civilians alike in defeating terrorists and dislodging them from their bases.
Also on Tuesday, General Sir Nicholas Patrick Carter, Chief of General Staff, United Kingdom, called on army chief General Raheel Sharif at the GHQ.
During the meeting, matters of mutual interest, including regional security situation and measures to further enhance defence cooperation between the two countries came under discussion, the ISPR said in another statement.
General Carter appreciated the successes of Operation Zarb-e-Azb and efforts of Pakistan for regional security.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2016.