Pull back veil from Pakistani Army: Daily

Islamabad: There's a very real and urgent need to pull back the veil when it comes to the Pakistani Army, a daily said on Friday.

An editorial in The Nation on Friday observed that when it is said that 'the army means business', the phase has too often been taken for its literal meaning.

"However, in an unprecedented move, the army has held two retired generals and one civilian officer of the National Logistic Cell (NLC) accountable for illegally investing Rs 4.3 billion in the stock market and causing a loss of Rs1.8 billion in the process between 2004 and 2008.

"After months of exhaustive sessions, evaluation of record of investments and interviews of all the witnesses, the inquiry carried out by a committee of high ranking officers, following army Chief General Raheel Sharif’s orders, and confirmed that these two officers were indeed responsible for making incorrect investment decisions in violation of NLC rules and regulations," the daily said.

It noted that with this disciplinary action - which includes the forfeiture of rank and decorations, seizure of pension, and recovery of personal gains of one of the accused - shows that the army is abiding by its mandate.

The daily went on to say that the "army has a tradition of expanding themselves beyond the role of just national security".

"We have seen them becoming a class of their own, an unchallenged one, engaging in widespread commercial activity from bakeries to housing. But the NLC scandal takes it a bit too far.

"Given the size and scale of the military, with its hands in almost every jar, the institution is powerful enough to shield itself where when it comes to investigating corruption and misdeeds committed by men in uniform. While we put politicians under constant scrutiny, and call them all sorts of names, other cadres go about their business unscrutinised and are almost untouchable. Yet, the cracks can be seen," it added.

The editorial noted that "we are loth to criticise the army and its people- a situation that the army can and has used to its advantage. We have forcefully made a dichotomy: corrupt politicians out to squeeze every last drop they can from the system, versus the noble and patriotic men in other institutions who may be occasionally misguided, but have Pakistan’s best interests at heart".

It sounded a note of caution, saying: "If we had treated army personally the way we treat political leadership, maybe there would have been one less coup. There’s a very real and urgent need to pull back the veil when it comes to the army and take on whatever skeletons come tumbling out."

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