Army chief General Raheel Sharif has dismissed at least 11 high-ranking officers, including a three-star general, over corruption charges in a development many consider as unprecedented at a time when the civilian leadership is under immense pressure to come clean over the Panama Papers revelations.
Apart from sacking of 11 officers, the army chief also decided to demote two former corps commanders to the rank of major generals, military sources told The Express Tribune here on Thursday.
Those who were sacked from service also include a major general, five brigadiers, three colonels and a major. Military sources, however, confirmed the names of six — Lt-Gen Obaidullah Khattak, Maj-Gen Ejaz Shahid, Brig Asad Shahzada, Brig Amir, Brig Said and Col Haider.
The story of action against corrupt army officers was doing the rounds in Islamabad for the last couple of days. It first came through an anonymous message sent to journalists. But on Thursday, the story finally made it into the mainstream media.
There was no official reaction from the military’s media wing despite repeated attempts.
Interestingly, Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Lt-Gen Asim Salim Bajwa, who remains active on Twitter to disseminate information, unusually kept quiet.
Hence, it was unclear when the officers were fired, the precise nature of charges or whether they would face proceedings in a civilian court.
Sources said all sacked officers served with Frontier Corps Balochistan and were believed to be involved in corruption during their service with the paramilitary force.
Both Lt-Gen Khattak and Maj-Gen Shahid served as inspectors general of FC Balochistan. When Khattak was IGFC, he was also served a contempt of court notice by former Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry in a law and order case of Balochistan.
Khattak was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-general in 2013 and was serving as IG Arms and Weapons at the GHQ before his removal from service. The sacked officers, sources said, will not be eligible for any perks and privileges as a punishment for their involvement in corruption.
The news of crackdown against corrupt army officers came just two days after the army chief called for ‘across the board accountability’ for solidarity, integrity and prosperity of Pakistan. He said the army would fully support any meaningful effort in that direction. Some critics questioned his statement and said he should start accountability from his own institution.
The latest move, military officials said, was answer to all the critics. Political observers believe that General Raheel’s decision to act against corrupt army officers will put further pressure on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Panama leaks.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2016.