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12 serving officers dismissed on corruption charges

21 April, 2016

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RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif dismissed 12 army officers, including a three-star general, from service over alleged corruption on Thursday.

A major general, lieutenant colonel, five brigadiers and a major are among those dismissed from service, said an intelligence official.

Sources say the following officers are among those dismissed:

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

The eight officers named above served with the Frontier Corps (FC) Balochistan and have been charged for corruption during their service with the paramilitary force. The others dismissed were junior commission officers who worked with those named above, said the intelligence official.

Following the investigation conducted by then Adjutant Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat on the orders of the army chief, the charged officers were asked to return all earnings accumulated through corruption, the official said, adding that all perks and privileges had been withdrawn from the officers except their pensions.

Lt Gen Obaidullah also served as IG FC from 2010-2013, after which Maj Gen Ejaz Shahid was appointed IG FC, intelligence sources said.

There has been no official confirmation regarding the move.

The development comes two days after the COAS said "across the board accountability is necessary for the solidarity, integrity and prosperity of Pakistan", adding that the war against terror cannot be won 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."

The army chief's call for across-the-board accountability comes as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is embroiled in the explosive Panama Papers which count his family among other global political elite with undeclared offshore assets.

Opposition leaders have demanded a probe into the scandal, with some calling for the PM to step down.

Quarters close to the PM’s Office say PM Nawaz is determined to have his three children cleared of accusations of money laundering and tax evasion in the aftermath of Panama Papers leak.

PML-N's Zubair Umar said that although the army chief's move was laudable, only the PML-N and prime minister should not be targeted. He called for holding "corrupt elements" within the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and PPP accountable as well.

PTI's Shah Mahmood Qureshi appreciated the development, terming the move a signal 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."

Qamar Zaman Kaira of the PPP said it was time for the PM and his family to come clean regarding the Panama leaks, adding that the opposition parties had "no differences over the initiation of a transparent inquiry". "Things done through consensus take time, and the Panama inquiry will also take some time."

Jamaat-i-Islami's Ameer Sirajul Haq said the civilian leadership should stand united against "economic terrorism" like it stands against militancy and terrorism after Army Public School massacre. He said the government was "still confused about forming a commission over Panama Papers".

Former president Pervez Musharraf also lauded the army chief's action.

Defence analyst Hassan Askari said the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and other agencies will be pressed to take similar action regarding bureaucracy.

The army chief's actions will have repercussions for civilian institutions and corrupt politicians under the microscope would be probed transparently.

Security analyst Talat Masood said the Army chief has "set an example for politicians to follow" and the decision 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," 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.

Surely in offering the military to greater financial scrutiny, a positive example would be set that politicians would be under legitimate pressure to follow.

Yet, where the military errs, the political class inflicts damage on itself — and the wider cause of democracy."

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