After weeks of excuses and silence, the parliamentary public accounts committee (PAC) has finally set June 30 as the deadline for the military to send the committee its report on the Rs1.8 billion losses at the National Logistics Cell (NLC) involving several senior generals, raising some hopes that the alleged perpetrators of the financial irregularities will be brought to justice.
The deadline was given at the latest hearing of the PAC, which was discussing allegations of irregularities in the accounts of the defence ministry.
PAC Chairman Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan did not attend the meeting himself, but conveyed his decision in a note he sent the committee, which was read out by his PML-N colleague on the PAC, Zahid Hamid.
“The PAC has decided that if the GHQ (military headquarters) does not submit the report by June 30, it will take action without taking the GHQ’s input,” said Hamid, reading from Chaudhry Nisar’s message.
In November 2010, the military had interjected in the PAC’s investigation on the NLC affair and committed to submitting a report within two months. However, Hamid revealed that Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had asked for more time from Chaudhry Nisar at a “social gathering”.
Hamid said that the committee could not delay making a decision on the matter beyond June 30, since it will have to complete its report by the close of the financial year.
The PAC’s latest decision negates Chaudhry Nisar’s earlier statements, which were much stronger in their tone. On November 25, 2010, the media quoted Chaudhry Nisar as saying that “he will go ahead with his committee’s probe into affairs of NLC despite Gen Kayani’s decision to conduct a separate inquiry into the matter.”
The latest statement shows that the PAC is reluctant to take a decision on the matter without the military’s input.
For its part, the military does not appear to be willing to speed up the process of finishing their investigation.
“I will convey the PAC decision to the army, but in my last interaction with Gen Kayani, he had said the inquiry was in process and he would need more time,” said Defence Secretary Syed Ather Ali, himself a retired lieutenant general from the army.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 14th, 2011.
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