Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief whip in the National Assembly Shireen Mazari on Friday raised the question of why an official statement regarding the dismissal of at least six army officers – dubbed an unprecedented move in the country's history – was not issued by the military's media wing.
"I thought I had missed the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement on dismissal of army officers on corruption but seems there was no statement," Mazari said, posing the question to Director General ISPR Asim Bajwa on social media website Twitter. "Why?"
Following one of the biggest corruption purges in the military, the army’s public affairs division and its director general, a prolific tweeter, were uncharacteristically mum.
There was no formal announcement from the army on the sackings and all information reached media through leaks from intelligence sources. Military officials in their private conversations confirmed the action against corruption.
Mazari's sentiments are echoed by politicians and analysts who have been asking why the ISPR was silent over the 'unprecedented' dismissals of officers on the basis of allegations related to abuse of authority and illegally collecting wealth.
The sacking of two generals, three brigadiers and a colonel were later confirmed to Dawn.com by an 'authoritative source'.
The lid on corruption in the Frontier Corps was blown in late 2014 following an accident in which two serving army engineers Lt Col Shakeel and Major Yasir lost their lives while testing a non-custom paid sports car for the son of the then IG FC Maj Gen Ejaz Shahid, according to multiple sources in the army.
Lt Col Shakeel had been tasked to fix the car that had been confiscated from Chaman.
Following the death of the two officers, an inquiry conducted by the FC headquarters ironically held them at fault and recommended that their posthumous compensation not be paid to their heirs.
This action was resented by the families of the two officers, who complained to the army chief’s secretariat and an inquiry was initiated by the Military Intelligence.
The probe then led to unearthing of corruption in the FC, the sources said, adding that Maj Gen Shahid Ejaz was posted out after the start of the inquiry.
There had been allegations against the FC in 2006/07 that its officials connived with smugglers of oil, cars, luxury goods and other items earning a huge amount of money.
But the allegations were never investigated (till the tragic accident occurred) due to insurgency in the province and the FC continued to enjoy a free hand in the Balochistan.
Political parties generally welcomed the move, with many saying the army chief had set an example for others to follow.
Describing the sackings as a ‘bold action’, the Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Association (PESA) hailed the punishment announced for the officers and said there was an urgent need to examine the weaknesses and loopholes in the system that let the sacked officers indulge in criminal acts.