No respite for the ‘bloody civilian’

Published: November 24, 2011
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The writer, a former chief economist of the Planning Commission, is at present based at Cambridge 
pervez.tahir@tribune.com.pk

The writer, a former chief economist of the Planning Commission, is at present based at Cambridge pervez.tahir@tribune.com.pk

The government stands completely condemned: corrupt, inept and working against the national interest. First, the MFN treatment for the enemy and now a plot against our strategic assets and their protectors — need there be more evidence against the ‘bloody civilians’? The main opposition party agrees with the script.

In case the main opposition, not fully trusted due its maverick leader, deviates from the script, a party of the untainted has been given its blessings. A meeting of this party’s supremo with the chief spymaster has been denied, but another with the nemesis of our now-former man in Washington has been confirmed. No public servant can visit a foreign country without the approval of the country’s chief executive. The chief spymaster, who is answerable to the chief executive, visits a third country without his knowledge, meets an acknowledged Pakistan-hater to patiently listen to the accusations made against another public servant, conducts an investigation without — one would presume — even informing the accused and satisfies his senior brother-in-arms that the accused stands guilty. Both then summon a meeting with the chief executive and the head of state and present them with a fait accompli. A public servant is investigated first by the ministry concerned. The Foreign Office, however, remains as far removed from this case as it is from foreign policy.

Fast rewind to some months ago. A senior leader of the party, weary of an intrusive establishment, found, as chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that three retired generals were involved in mismanaging the finances of the National Logistics Cell (NLC). The PAC is fully authorised to investigate offending public officials and recommend disciplinary action. In this case, the PAC was not taken seriously in the first place. When it was about to finalise its recommendations in March this year, the army high command intervened to take matters into its own hands as senior army officials were involved.

On June 13 of this year, the PAC expressed frustration over the slow pace of the military investigation and said that if the military did not submit a response soon, the PAC would have no choice but to take a unilateral decision without any military input. The PAC is required to submit a complete review of government accounts by the end of the fiscal year ending June 30.

“In March, Kayani shared certain findings of the [military’s] inquiry which are very much in line with our findings,” said Chaudhry Nisar. He said the military brass had been acting “hyper-sensitive” in recent days and he urged them to get over their sensitivity and take action against corrupt individuals to save the institution.

No action was taken till July, when the PAC was informed by the defence ministry that it would constitute a court of inquiry for this case.

“It is a proud moment for the Public Accounts Committee that on its recommendation the defence ministry, for the first time in the country’s history, has agreed to set up a full court of inquiry against three former military generals,” PAC Chairman Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said.

The defence ministry formed its court of inquiry only last month. On the basis of three inquiry reports, the PAC had already found serious violation of rules, the prime minister’s directives and discipline. But the generals, being generals, will be investigated by their own. There is no such luck for the bloody civilian.

Therefore, the PAC postponed a decision on penalties in anticipation of receiving the military’s internal inquiry report. Senior defence ministry official Air Vice-Marshal Najum told the committee that the military had completed its inquiry and was reviewing it.

The past many months have seen considerable wrangling between the committee and the military high command. The military had initially asked for a month to deal with the issue. It has now been more than seven months since the army intervened in the matter.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 25th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (13)

  • kakar
    Nov 25, 2011 - 12:50AM

    It’s our bed luck that there is no transparency and equality among the citizens of the state. Here in this country punishment is only for civilians and military men are above the law of the land. Justice is the icon of every civilized and progressive society. So we want that the chief justice should take notice in order to insure justice in the society.

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  • mariam.b
    Nov 25, 2011 - 1:20AM

    behind every cribbing civilian is a person who failed ISSB tests
    It happens :p
    emphasized text

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  • SaudiRules
    Nov 25, 2011 - 3:05AM

    An amry has a country called Pakistan. The sole purpose for the existence of the this unfortunate nation is for the welfare of the khakis and its cohorts.

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  • Truth Seeker
    Nov 25, 2011 - 5:41AM

    @mariam.b:
    During 1964 Election Campaign (late) F.M Ayub Khan called common Pakistani ‘Takay Takay Ka Aadmi’ ( Penniless Person). That mindset still dominates most of ‘ISSB pass’ veterans who have no guts to accept graciously their failures in 1965, 1971 and 1999 ventures.
    Same ‘Takay Takay ka Admi’ (including most of ISSB failures) are bearing the brunt of the excesses of ISSB Pass veterans.

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  • chacha jee
    Nov 25, 2011 - 8:01AM

    @mariam.b:
    That reminds me of a frog who was living in a small pond and thought that this is the ocean.

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  • Meekal Ahmed
    Nov 25, 2011 - 3:17PM

    Excellent, PT.

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  • Ghaznavi
    Nov 25, 2011 - 4:43PM

    @ truth seeker

    Seek the truth and stop spreading lies.

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  • Nov 25, 2011 - 5:11PM

    A very truthful but sad comment I read here is “An amry has a country called Pakistan. The sole purpose for the existence of the this unfortunate nation is for the welfare of the khakis and its cohorts.” It needs appreciation for publishing. When we see what is happening to our past co citizens we feel sad and frustrated. But we also feel surprised at the vast support that military dictators enjoy.

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  • Truth Seeker
    Nov 25, 2011 - 8:56PM

    @Ghaznavi:
    When you hear what you want to hear, then what you will not hear is the truth. Will you please let the readers know what is truth behind 1965, 1971 and 1999 ventures?
    Don’t start searching for conspiracies as convenient excuses.

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  • meekal ahmed
    Nov 25, 2011 - 10:09PM

    @VINOD:

    I think you are wrong about “support” for military dictators.

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  • shahjee
    Nov 26, 2011 - 1:29AM

    @ mariam b.

    Your comment is indicative of the “profession bias” prevalent in the country. It goes back to the schooling days. There are kids who take their studies seriously, and their parents, based on the kids’ caliber or their personal choice, mostly do the choosing for them and send them into scientific fields like engineering, medicine and other technical fields of interest.

    While those, who couldn’t put in much hard work early on in their academic lives (but are no less smarter) have to go for business studies, ISSB recruitment or CSS exams… Agreed that some people choose the latter professions out of passion and ambition, too, and some become entrepreneurs due to their interest and business acumen. However, I feel the majority among these Pakistanis have limited choices. In the end, our society makes a big deal of the profession somebody’s kid opted for or was forced to take up given the options.

    Spare me some generalizing here, but too often have we seen in our country that doctors, engineers and other technical professionals have been treated unjustly, by both the state authorities and the private businesses. Those professionals who could go abroad, made their moves (so-called Brain Drain) and excelled in North America and Western Europe. Those who stayed back in Pakistan suffered the likes of wage suppression and humiliation of various sorts. It’s no coincidence that this treatment was meted out by the bureaucrats, who in their academic lives went on to despise the bookworm kids they kept on being compared to and made fun of. Ironic as it may sound, the bureaucrats were treated even worse by the military brass for many decades in our history!

    While one cannot ignore issues like civil-military imbalance and phrases like ‘bloody civilians’ and ‘thulla’, the core of the problem lies in that mindset which views other professions with disdain and contempt, and at another level, humiliates the intellectual and hard-working professions…

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  • Pir M Shah
    Nov 26, 2011 - 8:39AM

    There is no punishment for those who hanged Bhutto, who divided Pakistan in 1971, who attacked India after Indian PM visit to Meenar e Pakistan,………gave airports for drones……………

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  • Nov 26, 2011 - 4:10PM

    @meekal ahmed: I pray that what you say is true. What saddens me is the amount of comments by well read and well placed Pakistanis supporting and praising every act of the armed forces.And abusing a democracy that is yet to find its feet. Even the press every now and then keeps repeating “India the arch enemy” and ” We the nuclear power.” Why keep flaunting these cliches to bolster the enmity and indirectly keep pressing the point of view of the armed forces.

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