NLC: Yet another evidence of Pakistan army’s financial corruption – by Rauf Klasra

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It is a fact that while urban, middle class chatterers of Pakistani media and blogs bash Pakistani politicians, financial (as well as moral and political) corruption of the military remains conveniently ignored or is not subject to one tenth of the scrutiny which is shown in the case of politicians. Historically and institutionally in Pakistan, military is not under any transparent accounting check and control system or audit. Therefore irregularities and corruption in the military remain unnoticed by the public. While the Military Incorporated is engaged in vast business activities in Pakistan, there is an urgent need to make them subject to proper accounting systems, internal financial controls supervised by reputed external auditors preferably reputed international auditing firms and also in the parliament. (Sarah Khan / Abdul Nasir).

NLC scam: PAC ruling in limbo till Army inquiry is over
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has decided to wait for the outcome of the inquiry ordered by Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in the Rs4 billion NLC scam instead of giving its own ruling in the light of three inquiry reports pending before it for more than a year.

Defence Secretary Lt-Gen (retd) Syed Athar Ali, who attended the PAC meeting, said the military inquiry would be completed within one month and its details would be shared with the PAC.

General (retd) Athar told the committee that the army command had ordered inquiry into the NLC scam after the Planning Division’s inquiry report was brought to his notice.

He said the army act fully empowers the high command to hold inquiries against retired army officers. General Athar said the purpose of this inquiry was to send a loud message to junior military ranks that all uniformed men were equal in the eyes of military laws.

He said COAS General Kiyani had decided to hold military inquiry public “so as to show our genuine intentions” to establish transparency and fair play.

PAC Chairman Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had claimed in the last meeting that no further investigations were required to reach any conclusion in the scam.

The protests by one PAC member that it was a body of a sovereign house and should proceed in the light of three available inquiry reports on NLC scam were, however, not given any weight by the PAC chairman and his fellow members.

The defence secretary was told that the PAC would not announce its own decision, though it was convinced about the alleged role of military generals in the scam. Lt-Gen Athar was informed that the committee would wait for the arrival of a fourth inquiry report and then make up its mind how to proceed.

Earlier, in a dramatic move, army chief General Kayani had announced instituting an inquiry into the scam to determine the role of three military generals allegedly involved in the mega scam. General Kayani’s initiative was taken in a negative sense as it was claimed that the inquiry was apparently ordered to preempt the PAC decision which was expected in the first week of December.

PAC member Saeed Zafar Padhiar did not agree with Chaudhry Nisar’s decision to wait for the GHQ report. He told the committee “we should treat NLC and GHQ like we treated the rest of civilian institutions” whose acts of omission and commission come before them.

“We even don’t know what the GHQ was up to and what sort of inquiry they were conducting,” he remarked.

But Nisar argued that the committee should keep its intentions positive and should take action of General Kayani in a positive light.

“We will treat the GHQ report as fourth inquiry report into the scam,” Nisar said. He also told General Athar to tell the GHQ that its inquiry board should read three past inquiries conducted into the scam, so they should know what were the main points raised in those reports.

Nisar said if the military wanted to conduct its own inquiry as an institution, then he did not have any problem. But he wondered if the army act allowed action against retired army officers. He said the inquiry should be done in a transparent manner, “so we should know what those generals under Musharraf were doing”.

He added that it might have been better had the defence secretary discussed it before ordering an inquiry so that everyone remained within the given domains.

Auditor General of Pakistan Tanveer Agha also proposed that the army should conduct its inquiry in the light of three earlier investigations into the affair.

Two serving major generals appeared before the PAC members surprisingly in civilian clothes, not in military uniforms. Usually, all serving military men are required to attend parliamentary bodies’ meetings in their military uniforms. PAC member Riaz Fatiana pointed out this lapse on the part of two military generals but, noticing complete indifference of his colleagues towards this otherwise serious issue, he too did not push it further.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2010.



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