ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Former spy chief retired Lt-Gen Faiz Hamid is being investigated for alleged corruption, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah revealed, while his party leader Maryam Nawaz Sharif called for the retired general’s court martial over his alleged role in bringing down her father’s government and implicating both her and Nawaz Sharif in NAB cases.
Meanwhile, Gen Hamid also seemed to break his silence over the fresh wave of allegations being levelled against him — by the PML-N in general and Ms Sharif in particular — when he told a journalist that it is the army chief who calls the shots in the military.
In a press conference on Wednesday, the interior minister said that a probe was underway against the ex-Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) boss and his brother over alleged corruption and accumulating assets beyond means. However, he said it would be premature to say anything further at this stage.
When it was pointed out that any probe into assets beyond means would fall in the domain of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the law minister said an investigation was already under way.
Maryam demands court martial of retired Lt Gen Faiz Hamid; former spy chief claims COAS was ‘calling the shots’, not him
“When something surfaces, you will be informed,” he told the questioner.
Separately, in an interview with a newly-launched digital news outlet, Ms Sharif demanded strong action against the former ISI DG for his role in getting her and her father convicted in NAB corruption references in 2017.
Unlike her arch-rival Imran Khan, who is demanding the court martial of the previous army chief, Ms Sharif stopped short of seeking any major punitive action against retired Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, saying that as of now, she wanted to make an example of Gen Hamid.
“I had spoken against Gen Hamid in court when he was the sitting ISI chief for his alleged involvement in getting me and Nawaz Sharif punished. I had evidence against him,” she said, referring to former Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui’s claims that the spy agency tried to prevail on him to issue a verdict of their liking.
When asked to comment on the PML-N leader’s demand for Gen Hamid’s court martial for his alleged unconstitutional acts, Rana Sanaullah said that this was a matter for GHQ to decide.
“Politicians make demands and express their viewpoint,” he said, explaining that a court martial of a former military officer does not fall within the jurisdiction of civil authorities.
Later, senior journalist Kamran Khan claimed in a tweet that the former ISI chief had reached out to him and provided a response to the allegations being levelled by Ms Sharif.
According to the journalist, Gen Hamid argued that in 2017-18, he was simply a major general in the army and asked whether, under military discipline, a lone officer could topple the government.
He was also quoted by Mr Khan as saying that it is the chief of army staff who has the final say, and that all the major decisions — seemingly a reference to Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification and subsequent imprisonment — were taken by the courts.
Unhappy with uncle Shehbaz?
During the interview, Ms Nawaz also opened up about the episode of her arrest from Lahore airport in 2018, saying that she still had regrets over the fact that a rally led by her uncle, incumbent PM Shehbaz Sharif, could not reach the airport in time, before she and her father were arrested.
When asked who would be her party’s pick for the slots of prime minister and finance minister if they win the next general elections, Ms Sharif smiled but refrained from answering.
This is not the first time Ms Sharif has been critical of her uncle and his government.
In February, she openly distanced herself from the ‘mini-budget’ introduced by the PML-N-led government at the Centre, saying that: “This coalition government of nine parties is not our government.”
Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2023