This Thursday Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif dismissed 12 army officers over alleged corruption.
The unprecedented move saw a dozen officers, including a three-star general, removed from their posts. A major general, lieutenant colonel, five brigadiers and a major are also on the list of those dismissed. The report cites an intelligence official that requested anonymity.
Names of 9 dismissed officers revealed by source
According to Dawn Newspapers’ source the following officers were dismissed from their positions:
- Lt Gen Obaidullah, Inspector General Arms and Weapons at General Headquarters
- Maj Gen Ejaz Shahid
- Brigadier Rasheed
- Brigadier Asad Shahzada
- Brigadier Saifullah
- Brigadier Amir
- Brigadier Haider
- Lt Col Haider, Commandant Chaman Scouts
- Maj Najeeb
Each of the 9 officers names above previously served with the Frontier Corps (FC) Balochistan. They will face corruption charges due to activities during their time with the paramilitary force.
According to the intelligence official the others who were dismissed were junior commission officers that worked in conjunction with those named above.
Intelligence source reveals information before official confirmation
The army chief ordered an investigation, which was carried out by Adjutant Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat. The officers have been told to return the money that they earned from their illicit activities, and all of their perks have been withdrawn with the exception of their pensions.
This information has not officially been confirmed.
Two days prior the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) said “across the board accountability is necessary for the solidarity, integrity and prosperity of Pakistan,” and that victory in the war on terror was not possible unless “the menace of corruption is uprooted”.
Gen Raheel said “Pakistan’s Armed Forces will fully support every meaningful effort in that direction which would ensure a better future for our next generations.”
Panama Papers places pressure on PM Sharif
The clampdown comes at a time when Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif is embroiled in the Panama Papers revelations. Documents show that Sharif family members hold undeclared assets in offshore accounts.
There have been calls for Sharif to resign as prime minister. However sources close to his office say that he wants to have his children cleared of accusations of money laundering and tax evasion.
According to PML-N’s Zubair Umar the corruption clampdown is a laudable move from the army chief. However he said that the PML-N and prime minister should not be targeted. Instead the “corrupt elements” of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and PPP should be investigated.
PTI’s Shah Mahmood Qureshi hailed the clampdown, saying that it was a positive sign that Operation Zarb-i-Azb and the war against corruption will not stop. “This action will bring more credibility to the state’s security in carrying out an across-the-board operation,” he said.
Qamar Zaman Kaira of the PPP called on prime minister Sharif to address the tax evasion allegations. Opposition parties have “no differences over the initiation of a transparent inquiry,” he said, before adding that “things done through consensus take time, and the Panama inquiry will also take some time.”
Jamaat-i-Islami’s Ameer Sirajul Haq called for politicians to come together in the fight against “economic terrorism” in the same way that it does against militancy and terrorism. He said the government was “still confused about forming a commission over Panama Papers.”
Army chief could inspire corruption investigations into politicians
According to defense analyst Hassan Askari, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other agencies will now feel the pressure to take similar action regarding bureaucracy.
The army chief’s corruption clampdown will affect civilian institutions and politicians, with more scrutiny placed on them.
Security analyst Talat Masood said the Army chief has “set an example for politicians to follow” and the initiative would “build pressure on politicians as well as the judiciary to root out corruption”.
“This decision has come at a time when certain sections were apprehensive about the involvement of Pakistan Army in civilian matters,” said Masood.
“Accountability per se is not a political issue, but then the national conversation at the moment is about the excesses of elected leaders. Perhaps a better way to interject itself into that conversation would have been for the military to start the so-called across-the-board accountability process itself,” he continued.
“Surely in offering the military to greater financial scrutiny, a positive example would be set that politicians would be under legitimate pressure to follow,” said Masodd. “Yet, where the military errs, the political class inflicts damage on itself — and the wider cause of democracy.”
It looks like the general may have set off a chain reaction that could lead to more transparency in both military and civilian organizations.