ISLAMABAD - Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif yesterday called for across-the-board accountability, terming it necessary for the solidarity, integrity and prosperity of Pakistan.

The statement of General Raheel Sharif about corruption and accountability came at the heels of Panama leaks controversy taking the whole country by storm and a few hours before Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s landing back from his weeklong visit to the United Kingdom for medical check-up.

Addressing an installation ceremony at Signal Regimental Centre, Kohat, the army chief said the ongoing war on terrorism and extremism cannot bring enduring peace and stability unless the menace of corruption is uprooted.

“Therefore, across-the-board accountability is necessary for the solidarity, integrity and prosperity of Pakistan,” ISPR quoted the army chief as saying. He further said the armed forces would fully support every meaningful effort in that direction, ensuring a better future for the next generations.

Meanwhile, political elite across the national spectrum welcomed the statement of the army chief. The government ministers termed it the policy of the ruling PML-N, claiming it was already waging a war against corruption and corrupt practices.

Defence Minister Kh Asif, Information Minister Pervaiz Rasheed and other PML-N MPs welcomed the statement of the army chief and said he was toeing the policy of the government. Explaining the point further, the information minister said the government, while formulating its policies, takes all the institutions on board be it a policy against militancy or some other issues of national importance.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who was scheduled to land in Lahore changed his plan and landed at Nur Khan Airbase Tuesday night at 9.30pm where he was received by the select cabinet colleagues and personal staff. He drove straight to the Prime Minister’s House where most likely he would be having a quick briefing by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on the developments taking place in the country.

Sources in the PML-N said though in public the PML-N ministers were owning the statement of the army chief against corruption and its linkage with terrorism, it has created panic in the ranks of the ruling party which is already under tremendous pressure due the Panama leaks directly implicating the family members of the prime minister.

The most disturbing factor for the ruling party was that almost all the political parties welcomed the statement of the army chief against corruption, especially in the circumstances the very person of Nawaz Sharif and the family members came under direct accusation of serious corruption charges, the sources in the party said.

They said the PML-N ministers yesterday held meetings with leaders of various political parties, explaining the government’s point of view to them and seeking their support and help in taking forward the investigations into the matter under the prime minister’s announced probe commission.

These sources said PML-N ministers, Kh Saad Rafique and Pervaiz Rasheed, failed to convince Jamaat-i-Islami Amir Sirajul Haq and JUP CMaulana Shah Ans Noorani as both the parties demanded a probe commission under the chief justice of Pakistan.

On the other hand, Pakistan People’s Party, the largest opposition party in both the houses of the Parliament, also held series of meetings with political parties, including Jamaat-i-Islami, Awami National Party and others. All of them were of the view that probe of the Panama leaks should be done under the supervision of the chief justice of Pakistan and, in case the apex court refused to take up the matter, the option of a parliamentary committee comprising members from both the houses of the Parliament should be given consideration.

At the installation ceremony, General Raheel Sharif pinned badges of ranks on Maj-Gen Sohail Ahmed and commended the families of the soldiers who had given sacrifices for the nation.

He also appreciated the signals corps for providing communication support to Zarb-e-Azb. Earlier, the army chief laid a floral wreath at Yadgar-e-Shuhada and offered fateha.