ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Association has openly called for punitive action against anyone — irrespective of rank or status -- who is guilty of corruption or providing support to terrorists, even if they are from the military.
A statement issued on Sunday after a meeting of the association’s executive council said that members had demanded that the government “ensure total human equality while dealing with all cases of corruption and other unlawful activities”.
It further said: “[Ex-servicemen have] always maintained that punitive action must be taken against all found guilty of supporting corruption or terrorism, irrespective of their status and rank, including [members of] the armed forces.”
Explaining the association’s resolve, retired Brigadier Samson Sharaf told Dawn, “If we are to clear the dirt, we have to do it indiscriminately. We are a citizens’ army, we are not above anyone.” He added that all ex-servicemen had offered themselves up for accountability and said that he believed that no-one should be exempt from scrutiny.
The statement’s timing is significant, coming at a time when rumours regarding the possible court-martial of military officials, including a general, on corruption charges are doing the rounds. A reference to the case in a recent newspaper editorial has also sparked speculation, although ISPR has yet to confirm or deny whether such proceedings have actually been instituted.
The meeting, which was chaired by retired Lt-Gen Ali Kuli Khan, was also attended by Air Marshal Masood Akhtar, Lt-Gen Naeem Akbar, Brig Mian Mahmud, Brig Arbi Khan, Brig Masudul Hassan. Brig Akram Malik and Brig Waqar Raja, among others.
In their statement, the ex-servicemen criticised former president Asif Zardari’s remarks against the army and also called for the swift return of all those displaced from the restive tribal areas due to a military operation.
Talking to Dawn, Brig Sharaf said, “I believe that army officials are accountable. If the repatriation of displaced persons is delayed, we will lose the initial successes of the operation because the refugees will be disappointed and may join the extremists.”
The meeting also voiced support for the activities of the Sindh Rangers in Karachi, where too apparently corruption is being targeted. According to the statement, “The Rangers must continue their operation to clean up Karachi... the federal government must ensure that all cases detected by Rangers are taken to their logical conclusion and no political expediency is allowed to delay justice, irrespective of the status of the guilty.”
The ex-servicemen also said that if the 18th amendment had tied the government’s hands, appropriate steps should be taken to rectify those hurdles.
The participants of the meeting also praised the progress of Operation Zarb-i-Azb, but said it was unfortunate that displaced persons had not yet started going back to their homes, despite claims to the contrary by the government, and called on the federal and provincial governments to take immediate measures to ensure their resettlement.
Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2015