Senior PAF officer held accountable for Kamra attack?

Published March 13, 2015
Wing commander challenges service extensions to 33 fellow airmen.—Reuters/File
Wing commander challenges service extensions to 33 fellow airmen.—Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: An indication that the armed forces have been investigating instances of attacks against sensitive installations and are assigning blame for security oversights at the senior level came as the Islamabad High Court (IHC) took up a petition by a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) wing commander who had been reprimanded for negligence for the attack on Kamra airbase.

The officer in question had approached the court to challenge service extensions for 33 other PAF officers – which he claimed to have been denied because he was tried by a field general court martial (FGCM) and awarded a punishment – for failing to protect billions of rupees worth of surveillance aircraft.

Wing Commander Mohammad Aamir was tried by an FGCM after the Aug 16, 2012 terrorist attack on the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex at Kamra.

His punishment was that he would not be promoted for two years.

Take a look: PAF officer seeking retirement alleges discrimination

This information was contained in the petition, filed by the wing commander before the IHC, whereby he has challenged the service extensions of 33 of his fellow officers. According to the petition, PAF authorities on Feb 2, 2015 granted service extensions to officers who were going to retire soon after. Wing Commander Aamir is also due to retire on Nov 15, 2015.

Wing commander challenges service extensions to 33 fellow airmen

His counsel, Inamur Rahim, argued before IHC Justice Amir Farooq on Thursday that the services of his client could have been extended as the petitioner was eligible for the extension in question, adding that the PAF’s action was discriminatory and not based on principle of n atural justice.

According to the petition, Aamir was the administration director at the Kamara airbase when it came under attack by terrorists. The attack caused heavy losses to Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft parked at the base.

The petition states that after the attack, “A board of inquiry was conducted (sic) and the outcome of that inquiry never saw the light of the day.”

In the past, there has been criticism of the military regarding assigning blame for failures, and it was observed that senior officers would be spared and junior ones reprimanded.

In 2013, a junior officer charged with failure to protect the AWACS aircraft, challenged the court martial proceedings before the Islamabad High Court.

Zafar Abbas, one of three junior PAF officials who was court-martialled for his alleged negligence on the night of the attack, claimed in documents submitted before the court that he was ill-trained and was never given any training to handle terrorist attacks.

He is accused of having provided the terrorists the opportunity to destroy a $250 million Saab 2000 plane on that fateful night.

His petition claimed that, “All four accused persons were from service/administration and were responsible for the maintenance of aircraft and other general services in the aircraft manufacturing factory, Kamra.”

It said that the petitioner and the other accused had demanded a copy of the board of inquiry report to prepare their defence before the FGCM, but PAF authorities had denied them copies of the report, ostensibly “to conceal the facts [and] protect the real culprits”.

The current petition pointed out that “at the time of incident the petitioner (Aamir) was already on leave and not even present at the station”.

Wing Commander Aamir was made an officer on special duty (OSD) on June 23, 2014, but after two days later, the order was recalled. The petition contended that the authorities informed Aamir on Feb 6, 2015 that his earlier posting to Lahore had been cancelled and he had been posted out to Karachi as an OSD.

The petitioner requested the court declare the PAF order for service extensions to 33 officers, excluding him, illegal. The petition also requested that the court declared the sentence awarded to him by the FGCM as void.

A PAF spokesman was approached for comment, but he did not respond to queries until the filing of this report.

Published in Dawn March 13th, 2015

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