The casual attitude displayed by military authorities towards taxpayers’ money is shown by the fact that the Auditor-General has reported Rs 5.49 billion in irregularities, including those which have been repeated by the authorities, like diversion of public receipts to non-public funds, as has been pointed out in prior reports and directions by the Public Accounts Committee. The report recommends that the irregularities need to be investigated to affix responsibility, so that appropriate action might be taken against those held responsible. While some of the objections are probably what they might seem, codal irregularities in which the responsible official did not follow the rules, others, if traced carefully, will unveil actual embezzlement and fraud. The audit objections would seem to be in accordance with the budget, as the defence services get the largest allocation. It should therefore not be surprising that the army, which gets the most funds within the defence services, attracted objections worth Rs 2.32 billion; the Ministry of Defence Production Rs 1.32 billion; mostly involving the Heavy Industries Taxila; and the Military Lands and Cantonments almost a billion, Rs 928 million. There were Rs 572 million to be explained in the PAF’s accounts. The Military Accountant General had irregularities involving Rs 341 million, involving HIT payments to its clients. This repetition of the HIT should serve investigators as a red flag.

But so should the largest item on the army’s list, the unjustified payment of Rs 752 million to the National Logistics Cell for a project in Bagh, AJK, for ‘work’ which was not carried out, not just because the sum involved is so large or because the work was not carried out, but because the PAC has previously struggled with the NLC recently, which was defended by the army which said it was investigating the case.

The attitude of much of the bureaucracy, including the military, to audit reports is cavalier. This is unfortunate, considering that the money being so casually spent has been collected from the taxpayer with great effort. There must be a proper investigation. Pakistan’s hard pressed taxpayer deserves no less. While there must be no compromise on national defence, the taxpayer’s money must not be wasted.