LAHORE - The dismissal of six senior military officers on charges of abuse of power has dispelled the impression that the institution of the army is a ‘sacred cow’, said the two former commanders of Strike-1 Mangla Corps.

Talking to The Nation yesterday, Lt-Gen (r) Ghulam Mustafa said, “The impression of army being the sacred cow of the country is dispelled through the news of six senior military officers dismissal on charges of misuse of authority for personal gains. The army chief has now endorsed his statement by his action that across the board accountability is a must for country’s progress.”

“It is very significant that senior military officers’ dismissal made public and it is time for the political elite to reciprocate the measure to launch a real across the board accountability. The accountability among the army ranks is a continuous process but they keep it among the ranks,” he added.

The officers dismissed from the service through an administrative action following inquiries against them and not Field General Court Martial (FGCM), said General Mustafa when asked about the military code of justice in this type of the cases.

The army chief has the authority to dismiss officers from service after an inquiry of misuse of authority for personal gains.

Why the dismissed officers didn’t face the FGCM, former commander Strike-1 Corps, when asked, said, “In such cases the officers are given the choice either to accept dismissal from service without benefits and forfeiting their ill-gotten assets or face the trial. In case of FGCM, the officer has to face the trial through Judge Advocate General (JAG) branch with sentence against his crime.”

“The officers who accept dismissal submit a written statement accepting all the conditions, which include withdrawal of all retirement facilities and benefits, no mention of their military rank after dismissal and forfeit of their assets,” he added.

“Adjutant General Branch of the army is the wing which maintains records of military personnel assets information from the time of joining of his service till his retirement,” said Mr Mustafa when asked which branch is responsible for military discipline.

At the same time intelligence agencies of the military also keep a check on the officers and other ranks to check abuse of power.

Lt-Gen (r) Tauqeer Zia, another former commander of Strike-1 Mangla Corps said, “I will not comment on its political repercussions but I will say in presence of a growing and vibrant media, the army has established the fact that it is not a sacred cow as said by some critiques following unfounded grounds.”

“Check and balance (accountability) is not a new thing for a soldier. The process starts the day we join the military academy. Several intelligence arms of the army keep checks on the officers and other ranks,” he added.

Misuse or abuse of power for personal gains is determined by comprehensive inquiries of several intelligence services at the same time to send an officer or others out of service without benefits. The soldier who opts FGCM is also provided the opportunity of an appeal against his sentence.

Each soldier has to furnish the record of his assets with the details of his wife and children to the Adjutant Branch after every five-year. The military secret services double check the information provided to the branch, said General Zia.

“I think more decisions relating to misuse of power by certain individuals in the military will be made public in future following this example. The case of corruption in DHA had already been made public,” he added.

“There are corrupt elements in the military but they don’t reflect the entire institution, the fact which is established by the dismissal news of six senior officers,” said ex-commander Strike-1 Corps.