NLC scam: For the same crime, civilians and ex- generals face different laws

Published: September 7, 2012
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The Adjutant General Branch GHQ had a meeting with NAB chairman in which the latter asked the GHQ to give access to the record.

The Adjutant General Branch GHQ had a meeting with NAB chairman in which the latter asked the GHQ to give access to the record.

ISLAMABAD: 

For the same crime – that of causing a loss of Rs1.84 billion to the exchequer – two different laws will be applied to the accused, depending on whether they are civilians or retired military personnel.

After the General Headquarters (GHQ) refused to allow the trial of three retired military generals in the National Logistics Cell (NLC) scam, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has decided to proceed only against the civilians, NAB’s Director Operations Zahir Shah told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday.

The GHQ has recalled the retired generals who, according to the defence ministry, will now be court-marshalled, Shah added.

Same crime, different courts

The PAC had directed NAB in July 2011 to proceed against three former generals and two civilians for illegally investing Rs4.3 billion in the stock market and causing a Rs1.8 billion loss in the process.   The investment-related decisions were taken by Lt Gen (retd) Khalid Munir Khan, Lt Gen (retd) Mohammad Afzal Muzaffar and Maj Gen (retd) Khalid Zaheer Akhtar.

Various inquiry reports have also held the then-chief finance officer NLC Saeedur Rehman responsible for the losses, along with another civilian.

Since July 2011, the GHQ has not allowed NAB to proceed against the military generals.

Incidentally, the army’s stance in the case is contrary to the position it takes when it comes to footing the pension bill of its retired personnel. The Rs100 billion military pension bill is not part of the defence budget since the GHQ argues that, after retirement, military personnel should be treated as civilians.

Dividing responsibility

Since the GHQ has decided to keep its accused men to itself, the accountability watchdog is left with several questions to deal with.

The NAB official said it has established connivance between the civilians and the former generals that led to the losses, prompting a lawmaker to ask how the crime and responsibility would be divided between civilians and military officials.

The GHQ is also not providing the record to start inquiry against the accused civilians, the NAB official told the PAC.

The Adjutant General Branch GHQ had a meeting with the NAB chairman in which the latter asked the GHQ to give access to the record which has been taken over by the military, Shah said.

So far, the NAB chairman has held three meetings with Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani but the army chief did not agree to the trial of ex-generals under civilian laws, Shah added.

Seeking the record

Overlooking the aspect of trying civilians and retired military-men under separate laws, the PAC directed the Ministry of Defence to give NAB access to the record and asked for a status report within 15 days.

It also directed the defence ministry to expedite proceedings against the accused former generals.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • Karachiwala
    Sep 7, 2012 - 4:59AM

    They are the real culprits and looters of this poor nation. Those who refuse to give access to these reitred generals are part of this crime.

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  • gp65
    Sep 7, 2012 - 5:06AM

    I see, so the CJ makes speeches about everyone being same about the law but not generals.

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  • Nadir
    Sep 7, 2012 - 5:23AM

    GHQ wont let retired officers face the courts as it would open a can of worms, that would lay bear the corruption, exploitation, land grabbing and manipulation of state resources by officer corps! Shameful! And they have the audacity to go around using emotive images and stories of brave jawans fighting on the borders to justify doing as they please!!

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  • Saleem
    Sep 7, 2012 - 5:32AM

    While driving a vehicle on Islamabad roads a General, Active or Retired, hit and kill a civilian then would that General be tried in a military or a civilian court? Answer is clear – since this happened in civilian domain he be tried in a civilian court.

    The NLC scam was done in civilian domain by civilian and Generals. There can’t be any distinction and they all must be investigated by same agency and must be tried in the same court. If proven then they all should be punished according to what they did. It was naïve on part of NAB to even contact GHQ for its consent, as if that matters. Law of the land is supreme for everyone and military can’t have its own way. Military is subservient to those who pays its salary. Anyone in military if dares to differ then he must be tried for treason. It is about time that criminals, civilian or in army, start paying for their crimes.

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  • naeem khan Manhattan,Ks
    Sep 7, 2012 - 5:39AM

    Amazing, Pakistani laws just don’t apply to the retired generals because they are so special. It shows how democratic the country is, this outfit in Islamabad surely will look the other way because they themselves are tainted. What a country, when get a chance then go ahead loot the Pakistani treasury as much as possible because there is no tomorrow.

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Sep 7, 2012 - 5:44AM

    Not two, three laws are applied. Civilians have two categories, one ordinary people and others are families of judges. The last category will make generals feel insignificant.

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  • Jibran
    Sep 7, 2012 - 6:33AM

    Where is Mr. Suo Motto?

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  • Parvez Amin
    Sep 7, 2012 - 6:45AM

    Before we decide to join any government service, we are the awam. On completing our assignment we retire and return to being a member of the awam. No more, no less.

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  • USMAN786
    Sep 7, 2012 - 9:45AM

    Army has its own regulation and rules and believe me they are much severe and harsher than civilian laws where they escape the court for lack of evidence. Ask your relative in army. I remember few cadets were sent home for stealing petty things or making a short-cut during race test etc and such ethical steps are never taken in civil world.Recommend

  • Hammad
    Sep 7, 2012 - 10:09AM

    @ Saleem: Sir, I am sure you have no clue of how the things work. If that happens to be the case, a Board of Investigation(BOI) would be formulated to see the aspects of the case, if general is found guilty he will be tried under Court Marshall and eventually dismissed from the military service. He would be then handed over to to civil police to pursue the case further with the civilian courts.

    I second Usman786 on that.

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  • Zubair
    Sep 7, 2012 - 12:36PM

    @USMAN786: Disciplining cadets and lowly ranked officers is much easier and a different issue altogether. Question is how many generals have been put behind bars by the military courts throughout Pakistan’s history.

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  • Zubair
    Sep 7, 2012 - 12:41PM

    @Hammad: Do you seriously believe that the judge in a military court would have the courage to convict a general who is much higher in rank than him?

    Plus, what about transparency. The entire proceedings of civilian courts where politicians are tried are reported in national media. No one would, however, get to know what happened in the military courts and what the facts of the case were.

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  • Nadir
    Sep 7, 2012 - 3:11PM

    @Usman and Hammad: They are retired, what are they going to be court martialed for? This all happened 6 years ago, if they havnt bought before JAG yet they never will

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  • Tahir
    Sep 8, 2012 - 2:58AM

    Just wondering that they say the scam took place between 2004 and 2008 so who was the general in charge of NLC before 2005…we know the names after that.Was it General Ahsan Hayat who went onto become the VIce Chief.

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  • Ali Hasan
    Sep 8, 2012 - 12:20PM

    The only solution to all this is “Civilian Control of Military” (PILDAT has done a lot of work on it). Where on earth a four star general (COAS) is allowed to promote a three star general (corps commander). If we don’t bring in this legislation soon, military takeovers and sham democracies will be our fate. Look what Muhammmd Mursi (Egyptian president) did with military generals within days of his inauguration. Similar Is the case of Turkey.
    Please also don’t expect CJP to move against Army within current laws as it’s job of the Parliament to bring in right laws.
    Army’s internal accountability is highly lopsided and selective; very strict for cadets and low ranked officers like Colonels and Brigadiers etc but absolutely nothing for generals in concrete terms. They are able to get away with almost everything. NLC scam is just a tip of the iceberg which was exposed by an audit report. If anyone has doubt, just start tracking the assets of few retired Lt Generals, their close relatives and their life styles. They virtually live like kings.
    How can you reinstate retired generals for court martial. This is not only blatantly wrong but will set a highly dangerous precedence for blackmailing retired officers. Someone needs to step up and speak about about all this before it’s too late. Judiciary has just enough teeth to prosecute The President and Malik Riaz.

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  • Tahir
    Sep 8, 2012 - 1:36PM

    Plus the major general mentioned served at the same post for almost like 5 years while govt. rules allow a maximum of 3 years on a single post.Seems like he is the mastermind.

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  • fatima
    Sep 17, 2012 - 8:37PM

    Kiyani has taken a courageus and right decision by starting the court martial of the general officers. There is nothing to hide, and actually the decision has enhanced the image of the army. Even the gross negligence and inefficieny is corruption.Moreover, when the commanders (and leaders of the national institutions)ensure the rule of the law and accountability in their outfits, all stake holders develop more confidence in the working of the army( and national institutions) Furthermore it reflects on the maturity and intellectual strength of the command at all levels.Good . Keep it up

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  • Nabeel Waseem
    Sep 17, 2012 - 9:09PM

    It must be appreciated that ARMY is taking action against the Generals without any proof that their intentions were malicious. There is no such example like this anywhere. Everybody must be given a chance to prove their innocence.

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