ISLAMABAD: A senior officer of Pakistan Army on Friday challenged his dismissal in the Islamabad High Court.

Major General Manzoor Ahmed was dismissed from service on March 9 this year.

However, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah after a preliminary hearing did not entertain the petition for lack of territorial jurisdiction, saying the matter pertained to the Lahore High Court since the petitioner was seeking relief against the order of the General Headquarters (GHQ) which was situated in Rawalpindi.

According to the petition, Maj Gen Manzoor was initially offered premature retirement but was dismissed after he filed a representation before the federal government against the ‘forced’ retirement.

The petitioner said that in the representation he “highlighted the major shortcoming in the promotional system starting from the rank of major general to lieutenant general such as lack of demographic diversity and its effect on the institution”.

CJ says matter pertains to LHC since GHQ is situated in Rawalpindi

However, the petition went on to state that instead of giving due consideration to the petitioner’s proposals and, according him, priority for honorary regular promotion to the next rank, as the petitioner had six-month experience of performing duties on a slot tenable by a three-star general, it infuriated the officers at the helm of affairs to such an extent that they orchestrated an unlawful dismissal of the petitioner from service.

The petition cited the defence secretary, adjutant general, military secretary and inspector general of arms as respondents.

Gen Manzoor said he got commissioned in Pakistan Army in 1985 and rose to the rank of major general (BS-21) and during the entire tenure not an iota of adverse record surfaced at any level against him and he also served as acting inspector general of arms which is a post of lieutenant general.

He said the military secretary had in July last year informed him that he would stand prematurely retired with effect from July 15, 2020. The general officer then filed a representation before the Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and, according to the petition, the COAS “agreed with the petitioner but expressed his inability to withdraw premature retirement orders. Moreover, the petitioner was told that an army officer can be retired as per the needs of the institution and is a common practice in a number of western countries”.

Gen Manzoor received the retirement order on June 29, 2020 from the military secretary stating that the federal government has approved his retirement, indicating it a “normal retirement on completion of service limit”.

Following receipt of the retirement order, Gen Manzoor filed representation before President Dr Arif Alvi on July 13, 2020. However, according to the petition, the military secretary’s office forwarded this to the adjutant general instead.

The AG Secretariat summoned Gen Manzoor and asked him to withdraw the representation or face court martial proceedings and dismissal from service.

The petition stated that the deputy military secretary then issued an order holding the retirement order in abeyance and then a court of inquiry, headed by Lt Gen Shaheen Mazhar Mehmood, Corps Mangla, was constituted and Gen Manzoor has been attached with the said corps.

As per the petition, this was done “only to ridicule a senior army officer, whereas an officer under inquiry is only required to attend proceedings when necessary”.

Gen Manzoor said that when he asked the authorities to provide details of charges against him, he was told that the inquiry was being done to redress his own grievances. However, the petition said that “during the proceedings, neither any witness was examined/questioned nor was the petitioner afforded the opportunity to cross-examine the witnesses”.

The petition said: “The dismissal order of March 09, 2021 is preposterous and unreasonable since the authorities have to establish the commission of some offence of grave nature, disciplinary breach, disclosure of official secrets…moreover, the inquiry proceedings were never held nor any official order from the same was passed which is sufficient to establish that departmental authorities transgressed their limits.”

The petitioner requested the court to set aside the dismissal order.

Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2021

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