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‘Beyond the law’

September 18, 2012

THIS is apropos of your editorial ‘Beyond the law’ (Sept 8) in which it was mentioned that the army has re -inducted three retired generals to avoid a civilian institution investigating them in the National Logistics Cell scam.

The three retired generals are facing allegations for mismanagement of public funds, violating rules of investment in the stock market, providing kickbacks and losing Rs2 billion in the process in National Logistics Cell.

They will now be court-martialled instead of being investigated by the National Accountability Bureau whereas the two civilian mangers involved in the same case will be interrogated by NAB.

This move by the army carries serious implications for the rule of law, civil-military relations and for the reputation of the army.

First, the army has sent a clear message that it has its own set of laws and its men are not governed by laws which are applied to the rest of Pakistan.

Initially, the army tried to delay the investigation by not sharing the record, related with the case, with civilian authorities and then they found a way out to try their men behind closed doors.

This is a blow to the rule of law and institutional harmony.

Moreover, this whole situation shows that there is a wide gulf and mistrust between civil and military institutions. The re-induction of the three generals army shows that either army is above the law or it does not trust the civilian investigation mechanism.

In both cases, it is detrimental for civil-military relations. Lastly, this act by the army will give a message to the people that it does not follow normal court producers.

Pakistan has lived half of its time under military rulers which has brought the army under severe criticism. People believe that the army has outstretched itself by getting into commercial ventures.

There is a dire need to shed these commercial responsibilities and get more focused on war on terrorism and other regional threats.

The army needs to build its image. Such unlawful moves will not help it build its image in the country and abroad.

In a nutshell, all doers in the NCL scam, civilian or military, should be tried under the Pakistan Penal Code to ensure the rule of law and establish the writ of the state over all institutions.