In an unprecedented development, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif dismissed 6 Army officers including two generals on charges of corruption. Previously it was reported that 12 officers have been dismissed but now the figures has been corrected to 6 officers. The dismissed officers include two former Inspector Generals (IGs) of Frontier Corps Balochistan namely; Lieutenant General Obaidullah Khattak and Major General Ejaz Shahid.
Some people are terming the punishments of Army officers too little and too late but it’s a step in the right direction and must be appreciated. Earlier, COAS had also given green signal to NAB to go ahead in inquiry in DHA scam. These steps are part of the military leadership’s strategy to break the nexus of terrorism, extremism and corruption as COAS pointed out in Gwadar Seminar couple of weeks back.
First, corrupt elements were targeted in Sindh and as a result former President Asif Zardari and some other politicians are not returning back to Pakistan. Now, it seems that it’s the turn of the corrupt elements in Punjab and they will face the music from NAB. After the bold decision of Army Chief, Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif is under a lot of pressure to initiate an impartial inquiry into panama paper allegations.
However, there are still no signs of any major anti-corruption drive against the corrupt elements in Balochistan. Arguably Balochistan is the most corrupt province in Pakistan. Politicians, bureaucrats and even the Paramilitary officers are amongst the most corrupt in the country. These are not just allegations and the observations on ground support these claims.
From 2008 to 2015, Balochistan government has received almost Rs. 1,200 Billion from the federal government
From 2008 to 2015, Balochistan government has received almost Rs. 1,200 Billion from the federal government. However one does not see the impact of such huge chunk of money on the ground and in the lives of the people. Where did all this money disappear? Answer is that in the bank accounts of the crooked lot of Balochistan. However not a single person has been held accountable in proper way for this mega corruption.
Government of Nawab Aslam Raisani during 2008-13 is considered to be most corrupt in history. There was a 60 member cabinet and no check and balance on the government in its decisions to spend government resources. According to sources within Civil Secretariat of Balochistan, more than Rs. 360 billion were embezzled during the Nawab Raisani government. Unfortunately, not a single person has been convicted for corruption in that period which is a travesty of justice with people of Balochistan.
Dr. Malik Baloch’s government was relatively better in terms of corruption but still it failed to tackle the issue. There was rampant corruption under the watch of Dr. Malik in government contracts, Planning and Development Department and almost all execution agencies in the districts. Communication and Works (C&W) department and Balochistan Development Authority (BDA) still continue to score high in corruption. However, no one is bothered about this corruption and no action has been taken against the culprits involved.
NAB in Balochistan seems to be in state of hibernation and has not filed a meaningful case of corruption against the corrupt elements in a long while. National media does not give attention to the rampant corruption in the province and local media is compelled to not expose it due to safety concerns.
Corruption issue is directly linked with the solution of the ongoing Balochistan conflict
Corruption issue is directly linked with the solution of the ongoing Balochistan conflict. Current insurgency is being carried out on the rationale that people of Balochistan are not getting their due rights. Financial corruption in the province is preventing common people from getting their rights despite increase in provincial autonomy after 18th amendment. It’s fair to say that current conflict can never be brought to an end as long as there are no meaningful actions against corruption in Balochistan.
Therefore the need of the hour is to extend war against economic terrorism to Balochistan. Ruthless accountability campaign should be carried out against the corrupt elite of the province from the days of Jam Yousaf government in 2002 onwards. No one should be spared in this drive whether they are influential tribal chiefs, top bureaucrats or contractors. There will be a lot of impediments in the way of such a drive but it has to be done to solve the conflict of Balochistan.
This is the most opportune time to start this anti-corruption drive and those in corridors of powers have to realize it