ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is mulling the next action against the army officers allegedly involved in the National Logistics Cell scam after a military court of inquiry investigating the scandal completed the recording of evidence.
In its first statement on the case that has been making newspaper headlines since 2009, ISPR said: “Recording of four summaries of evidence has now been completed and are under consideration of the competent authority. Basing on the credibility of the evidence accrued through these summaries of evidence, the COAS will decide on the next legal step.”
The statement released by the army’s public affairs wing follows a disclosure at the Public Accounts Committee last week by Planning Commission secretary Javed Malik that the GHQ had instituted a court of inquiry against the accused retired generals after getting them back into service.
The NLC administratively functions as a department attached to the planning and development division and works under a board that comprises six civilians and two armymen.
Following the disclosure that the army was proceeding against the generals accused of wrongdoing, members of the PAC aired scepticism about the move fearing some foul play. They feared it could delay action against the guilty. Besides, they felt the action against the civilians and military men by NAB and the GHQ, respectively, would give an impression that separate set of laws were being applied for the same accusations in the NLC case.
Reacting to the scepticism expressed by the PAC members, the ISPR statement noted: “It must be appreciated that for the first time in the history of Pakistan Army, retired senior officers have been recalled, taken on strength and subjected to thorough process of investigation.”
Inquiry reports have so far revealed that Lt-Gen Khalid Munir Khan, Lt-Gen M. Afzal Muzaffar, Maj-Gen Khalid Zaheer Akhtar, Najibur Rehman and Saeedur Rehman were possibly responsible for the losses of Rs1.8 billion incurred by the NLC between 2004 and 2008.
The accused allegedly caused the loss by borrowing money from commercial banks on high interest rates and by investing pensioners’ money in the risky business of stock market.
It is suspected that the accused received commission from companies through which Rs4 billion was invested in stock market.
The two civilians accused in the case are being investigated by NAB. The PAC has been pursuing the case since Feb 2009. The planning division secretary soon afterwards started a probe into the irregularities.
The probe committee, according to timeline of the case released by ISPR, finalised its report in January 2010. The findings, ISPR said, were shared with the GHQ in Sept 2010.
Following the receipt of the findings, it said the COAS decided to proceed against the accused under the Pakistan Army Act’s section 94, instead of referring the matter to the NAB.
The army court of inquiry was convened in November 2010, which reported preliminary findings to the COAS in February last year. Subsequent to that, ISPR said, the COAS directed a formal investigation to allow a fair trial.
Summaries of evidence have been recorded and submitted to the COAS.
The ISPR statement underscored that despite the loss incurred in the past NLC’s financial health was improving.
“The NLC under direction of National Logistics Board and Quarter Master General (QMG) in capacity of Officer-in-Charge NLC, has retired all its debt and bank loans amounting to approximately Rs9.3 billion and has posted a net profit of Rs3 billion at the close of the 2011-12 financial year. As of today, the NLC is on a positive trajectory,” the statement said.