A scathing petition was filed in the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday by sacked defence secretary Lt Gen (retd) Khalid Naeem Lodhi against his dismissal by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on charges of “gross misconduct”.
The petition was immediately accepted, with a preliminary hearing fixed for today (Wednesday) before a one-member bench headed by IHC Justice Riaz Ahmad Khan.
Making the president, prime minister, cabinet secretary, establishment secretary and acting Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi respondents, Lodhi requested the court to set aside the notification of his removal.
The former secretary sought a stay order on the implementation of his removal as ‘temporary relief’, until there was a final disposal of the writ petition filed through his lawyer, Advocate Munir Paracha.
Lodhi argued in the petition that he had not been served any charge sheet or a show cause notice for his alleged misconduct, adding that no inquiry was held against him before terminating his service contract.
Lashing out at the government, he said his removal from the post had taken place in order to clear the way for the respondents to take further illegal steps to arbitrarily remove the chief of army staff (COAS) and director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (DG ISI) to fulfil a ‘political agenda’ and ‘ruin the country’. Lodhi added that the termination of contract was a violation of fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution.
Affidavit on Memogate
In the petition, Lodhi accused the respondents of pressurising him to sign an affidavit on the Memogate scandal. According to the former secretary, the document was prepared by government functionaries and was in complete conflict with what he referred to as the ‘factual position’ narrated by the COAS and the DG ISI in their written statements submitted to the Supreme Court.
In any case, he added, he had no moral justification to sign an affidavit prepared by someone else contrary to the facts.
Lodhi said that he then submitted his own affidavit to the Supreme Court in the memo case, with the consent of Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq.
“The respondents could not digest the rejoinder issued by Inter-Services Public Relations on January 11 in response to the irresponsible interview given by the prime minister to the Peoples Daily Online of China after which the respondents, being totally oblivious about the law, lost no time to terminate the service contract of the defence secretary,” Lodhi stated in the petition.
Before Lodhi, Advocate Tariq Asad, one of the petitioners in the Memogate case, had also requested the Supreme Court on Monday through a petition to direct the prime minister to withdraw Lodhi’s termination orders until the investigation being carried out by a judicial commission into the memo scandal was over.
Asad had also prayed to the court to restrain the prime minister from passing any ‘adverse order’ in an unlawful manner against the army chief and the DG ISI.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 18th, 2012.