The common perception about Pakistan’s armed forces is that they abide by the rules and they keep their code of conduct supreme. However, in the upper echelons of Pakistan’s armed forces, rules and procedures are sometimes violated. One recent example that can be referred to here is from a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee. Certain irregularities were found in the leasing process of the Karachi Shipyard restoration project. The Prime Minister, the supreme authority of the country, had placed a ban on the import of luxury cars. The Chief of the Naval staff violated this ban when he ordered 42 luxury cars including 2 BMWs.

Though the PAC has taken notice of these irregularities, only a warning is being issued to settle the matter. With such a light token of displeasure, accountability cannot be ensured. Unfortunately, the Parliament and its subsequent bodies are too weak to take strict action against officials of armed forces that are found guilty of misconduct.

Having said that, armed forces should give a thought to the fact that Pakistan is a poor country. The county cannot bear the expenses of extravaganzas and enormous spending to ensure a higher lifestyle that our elite is so fond of. The argument that the armed forces (or any other state service) are entitled to extra perks and privileges holds little water; it is still a duty and a job, and voluntary.

It needs to be reminded to our military, bureaucratic and political elite that the institutional structures are still ruling through colonial means and tools of subordination. It needs to be argued that the country will be able to liberate itself only if the ruling class realises that they have a responsibility to citizens, not the other way around.