General Raheel Sharif is a True Patriot
13 June 2016
By Saeed Qureshi
In the aftermath of Panama Leaks, General Raheel Sharif the
incumbent Pakistan's Chief of Army Staff has made one very important
announcement as well as took a landmark decision. In his momentous address
delivered on April 19 at the military's Signal Regimental Centre in Kohat,
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa he pleaded that ''the on-going war against extremism and
terrorism cannot bring enduring peace and stability in the country unless the
menace of corruption is uprooted''. General Sharif who will retire in November
2016 has declined his extension of service.
cannot be a more truthful and poignant analysis of the malaise of deep-rooted
corruption and its ominous impact on the war on terrorism and uprooting of
crime violence in Pakistan. General Raheel further emphasized the ''need for
across the board accountability to secure a better future for generations to
come and also for the integrity, solidarity and prosperity of Pakistan''.
His unprecedented and most applauded decision is to send 12
army officers on forced retirement against charges of corruption and misuse of
power. Among these 12 officers are six high-ranking military officers,
including a lieutenant general and a major general. The forcibly retired army
officers have been asked to return all earnings accumulated through corruption
and unfair means.
This action is being admired by the
civil society, politicians, business circles, media and the people at large.
The army thus far has been considered as a holy cow not to be touched for
probe or for any legal action whatsoever. But this taboo has been broken by
the current COAS who has brought both the civilians and the army at one plank
which sets a watershed and splendid tradition of the ''across the board
accountability'' of the corrupt individuals whether in Khaki or the civilian
Pakistan is known to be one of those
countries where corruption has always been endemic and widespread in public
and private department and institutions. All along the Islamic Republic of
Pakistan has been infected with ''Bribery, Cronyism, Kleptocracy, Economics of
corruption, Electoral fraud, Legal plunder, Nepotism, Slush fund, Plutocracy,
Political scandals etc. In 2012, Transparency International (TI) calculated
that Pakistan had lost more than Rs 8.5 trillion (US$ 94 billion) in
corruption, tax evasion and bad governance in the PPP-led coalition government
from 2008 to 2013 (Wikipedia)
There has never been an
effective and unassailable accountably mechanism that could make headway in
rooting out this diabolic curse of corruption keeping Pakistan governed badly,
economically poor and socially backward. Now the ball is in the court of our
civilian leadership. The government should follow the shining example set up
by inimitable General Sharif to unfurl a comprehensive plan and strategy for
catching and punishing the corrupt elements in all spheres of society who
robbed the national exchequer, got the huge loans forgiven, who opened
offshore accounts to conceal their assets and income and amassed wealth
through foul and dishonest means.
The prime minister's
announcement to constitute an accountability commission under the chief
justice of Pakistan for probing corruption is the first step in the right
direction. But catching of the bull of corruption by horn is not that much
simple. There are countless powerful lobbies and influential individuals
involved in persistent corruption for decades. There has to be a nationwide
gigantic effort and unrelenting drive to uncover and punish the delinquents of
all shades involved in the wholesale and uninhibited corruption, bribery and
misuse of power.
In this regard the judicial system
has to be strengthened because judiciary is infested with black sheep that
sell their honor and professional integrity and dish out verdicts for the
highest bidders on the basis of their relations and friendship or under the
In a 2011 survey, TI Pakistan
identified judiciary as ''the most corrupt institution in Pakistan alongside
police where the highest amounts of bribery were spent on people affiliated
with the judiciary and police''. In the domain of education the ghost schools
and absentee teachers have robbed the provincial and federal governments of
billions of rupees.
The bureaucracy in Pakistan has
been in the forefront of getting kickbacks and misusing their authority and
administrative clout and power for kickbacks and huge grafts. The people and
the public should be encouraged and protected to come forward and reveal the
scams, cases of corruption and bribery and illicit deals and show of
favoritism by officials and departments at the cost of the national or public
Similarly the cadres of police have to be strengthened, retrained and
mobilized to catch the culprits with professionalism, courage and without any
fear of being sacked or harmed in any way.
In fact it is a colossal and gigantic national mission and crusade to be
launched for cleaning the society of gross malpractices, highhandedness of
bureaucracy, of politicians, and members of parliament, influential
feudalists, senators and bigwigs in Pakistan.
a lifetime chance for cleansing the stables and dens of corruption, the
violation of law and rules and endemic despicable culture of favoritism and
vested interests. If no cue is taken from General Raheel's milestone and
historical initiative, there cannot be another chance to cure the diseased
society of Pakistan assailed by opportunists, bounty hunters, bribe takers and
agents of sleazy character.
accountability Bureau or to be newly established judicial commission or both
jointly should, first of all, probe the following mega cases of financial
fraud, misconduct and robbing the national exchequer of billions and trillions
Some of these cases are OGRA Scam, Rental
Power Projects (RPP) scam (former PPP Prime Minister Raja Asharaf is the main
culprit), NATO containers case, Pakistan Steel Mills scam, NICL (National
Insurance Company Limited) corruption case, Ephedrine quota case (70 billion
rupees fraud in which former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani in implicated),
the Mediagate scandal, the PMDC's fake registration and Hajj corruption case.
The financial losses due to corruption in PIA alone have been around around $
500 million. Massive financial losses due to mismanagement and embezzlement of
funds have also been reported in Pakistan Railways.
Also the usurpation of millions of acres of official land including that of
Railways, illegal and out of turn allotments of plots, sale of water by PPP
ministers in Karachi, the patronage by politicians of extortionists, target
killers, criminal gangs and mafias need probe and punishment. Those found
guilty of fraud, and corruption should be punished with confiscation of their
assets, properties, and lands and long jail terms.
guidelines, reforms and roadmap should be handed out by commissions manned by
experts for good governance, to ensure accountability and to ward off
reoccurrence of misuse of power, sway of crime and financial scams.
The writer is a senior journalist, former editor of Diplomatic Times and a
former diplomat. This and other articles by the
writer can also be read at his blog www.uprightopinion.com.