ISLAMABAD: Three days after being sacked by the prime minister, former defence secretary Naeem Khalid Lodhi has spoken out against his unceremonious removal, saying he was neither given a reason nor served any show cause notice.
He has also decided to move the court against his dismissal.
The government, however, rejected Lodhi’s stance and said he was dismissed because he filed a reply to the Supreme Court in the Memogate case without consulting the defense minister.
Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani ordered the removal of Lodhi on Wednesday over allegations of ‘misconduct’ and ‘creating misunderstandings’ between the civil and military leadership.
Lodhi, a retired general considered more loyal to the military than the civilian government, was sacked immediately after the army publically rebuked the prime minister for his criticism against the military and intelligence chiefs.
“I have done nothing wrong. My reply in the Supreme Court on the memo case was in line with the rules of business,” he told The Express Tribune on Friday, while announcing his decision to move the court against the prime minister’s decision. Interestingly, the sacked defense secretary’s move comes after a meeting with army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
Lodhi confirmed his meeting with Gen Kayani but insisted it had nothing to do with his decision to approach the court.
“I was his (Gen Kayani) corps commander and I meet him regularly,” he said.
Asked about the army chief’s reaction, the former secretary said: “He (Gen Kayani) expressed his disappointment over my sacking.”
Lodhi, who retired as corps commander of Bahawalpur in 2011, was believed to be appointed on the military’s advice.
It is learnt that the military brass has encouraged Lodhi to challenge his removal in the court in order to set the record straight that ‘he had done nothing wrong.’
However, he claimed that he had decided to approach the judiciary in his individual capacity.
Refusal to sign affidavit
Lodhi claimed that his refusal to sign a government affidavit on the Memogate scandal might have been the main reason behind his removal.
He maintained that he had adopted a neutral position on the affidavit. “This affidavit – was not my statement, and I cannot sign something which is not my statement.”
In his reply to the Supreme Court, Lodhi said the government did not have ‘operational control’ over the army and its intelligence agencies.
“I stand by my statement,” he argued. “The government can give general direction to the armed forces to accomplish certain tasks but when it comes to the operational details … for example how many guns you need, etc, that can only be decided by the military.”
LHC admits petition against Lodhi’s sacking
The Lahore High Court Registrar’s office has admitted a writ petition against the sacking of the former defence secretary, to be heard before Chief Justice Sheikh Azmat Saeed on January 16.
Muhammad Azhar Siddique, chairman of a public interest litigation company Mohammad & Ahmad, moved the petition, stating that the removal of Lodhi was based on mala fides and was an attempt to create a confrontation between institutions. (Additional reporting by Rana Tanveer in Lahore)
Published in The Express Tribune, January 14th, 2012.