Pakistan: Sharif govt takes aim at Army over corruption, political interference

at 8:54 pm
Lt Gen Faiz Hameed (Retd), along with then Pakistan Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa and PM Imran Khan (File Pic)

New Delhi: It’s well known that the Army in Pakistan has been throttling the country’s democracy, throughout its history, by indulging in direct or indirect interference in politics, besides other machinations.

It is also well known that the Generals and other top brass of the Army have been indulging in rampant corruption and loot of the country’s resources, at the cost of the common masses.

However, for the first time, the government headed by Shehbaz Sharif is attempting to hold the all-powerful military accountable for its misdeeds.

The Pakistan Army and its Generals are being exposed in the context of corruption, political engineering and influencing elections.

The Sharif government has taken aim at former Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa’s close confidante and one of the top former Generals Lt Gen Faiz Hameed (Retd) for “financial embezzlement” and rigging and influencing the ecosystem leading to the installation of Imran Khan regime in 2018.

Gen Hameed, then Director General (Counter-Terrorism) who was later made Chief of the notorious intelligence agency ISI, is being held responsible for manufacturing fake cases against the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family members and creating a situation of lawlessness through the ‘Faizabad dharna’ in 2017 to dislodge the government.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah stated three days back that “various kinds of investigations are underway” against Gen Hameed and his brother, including “financial embezzlement.”

His remarks came after the Chief Organiser of the country’s ruling PML-N party Maryam Nawaz demanded “immediate” court martial of Gen Hameed for his role in getting her and her father Nawaz Sharif convicted in “fake” cases in 2017.

Gen Hameed, enjoying Gen Bajwa’s full support, had spread his wings much beyond his scope and role as the DG Counter-Terrorism.

In fact, Gen Bajwa also amassed money and properties to the tune of billions of dollars through corruption and loot, in which his brother Asim Bajwa was a partner.

Asim Bajwa gained notoriety for corruption when he was the Chairman of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) after his retirement from the Army as a 3-star General.

According to Nawaz Sharif, Gen Bajwa and Gen Hameed together pressurised the Supreme Court judges in 2017 to get him disqualified by the top court in “fake” cases.

Nawaz Sharif, the elder brother of Shehbaz Sharif, was dislodged from the Prime Ministership and piles of cases were filed against him and his family members, prompting him to flee the country.

Shehbaz Sharif, who was also ousted as the Chief Minister of Punjab, did not leave the country and had to undergo imprisonment for several months.

Now, even though his brother is the Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif continues to stay put in London as he is afraid of returning home, lest he would be arrested in the cases still pending against him.

According to the Shehbaz Sharif dispensation, Gen Hameed, who had the sweeping blessings of the then Army Chief General Qamar Bajwa, carried out manipulations that ensured Nawaz Sharif government’s ouster and a majority for Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) in the country’s Parliament, called the National Assembly.

According to charges, Gen Hameed, even before being ISI DG in 2017-18, used to issue diktats to journalists and micro-manage the media houses to make them propagandists in favour of Imran Khan and the military Establishment.

His power, clout and flamboyance grew manifold after being made the ISI Chief.

If Gen Hameed’s misdeeds are probed properly, several skeletons may fall even from the cupboard of Gen Bajwa.

However, it remains to be seen how far the political government can, or will be allowed to, proceed in the investigations considering the immense and dangerous clout that the Army wields.