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Army recalls retired officers

Rawalpindi – September 14, 2012: 
An official of ISPR while commenting on NLC issue
said that National Logistics Cell (NLC) functions under the control of
National Logistics Board (NLB) as an attached department of Planning and
Development Division (P&D Div). NLB was established through
Government of Pakistan Notification Number 120/19/78-Min dated 12 August
1978. It is headed by Minister of Planning and Development. Its members
include Federal Secretaries for Finance, P&D, Communications, Food
Agriculture and Live Stock, Deputy Chairman Planning Commission and
Officer Incharge NLC. Director General NLC, a serving Major General
appointed by GHQ, acts as Secretary NLB. As evident, the Board comprise
of six civilian members and two from Army. Being Competent Authority for
NLC, the Board meets once a month for approval of all major decisions
related to NLC.

In February 2009, PAC discussed the Draft Para Number
214 and observed that NLC management had invested in stocks by
purchasing shares of different enlisted companies / institutions,
violating the BOD instructions. Thereafter, Secretary P&D Division
(Principal Accounting Officer) constituted an inquiry committee to probe
into the irregularities. Findings of this inquiry committee were
finalized in January 2010. The recommendations of P&D Division
inquiry concerning retired Army officers were subsequently referred to
GHQ through Ministry of Defence (MoD) on 20 September 2010. Court of
Inquiry by Secretary P&D did not accuse any individual of NLC for
embezzlement or financial mis-appropriation but for irregularities, lack
of transparency and failure in observing rules and regulations. (These
facts are available on the official website of PAC).

On receipt of
MoD’s letter at GHQ, COAS as a prescribed officer (Pakistan Army Act
Section 94 and Criminal Procedure (Military Offenders) Rules 1970) had
to decide whether to proceed against the accused under Pakistan Army Act
(PAA) or through a Civil Court / NAB. The COAS decided to proceed under
PAA. In November 2010, a high level Army Court of Inquiry was convened,
presided by an officer of the rank of Lieutenant General for the
purpose of finding out initial facts. The inquiry report was submitted
to COAS in February 2011. On receipt of the findings of the Court of
Inquiry, the COAS considered whether to opt for an administrative action
or a formal investigation. Opting for an administrative action would
have entailed use of discretionary powers by the COAS, whereas opting
for a formal investigation, through time consuming, is obviously much
more fair and transparent, allowing a fair chance to both the
prosecution and the defendant. The COAS opted for latter course of

The next legal step was to order a Summary of Evidence which
was ordered in September 2011. The statements made in the Summary of
Evidence can be used as evidence in a trial. Therefore, full legal
rights were afforded to the defendants including the right to counsel.
The process required expert scrutiny of records spread over years, held
not only by NLC but also a number of other Government departments. Many a
documents produced also required forensic analysis for authenticity.
Moreover, the case necessitated not one but recording of four Summaries
of Evidence which have now been completed and are under consideration of
the competent authority.

Basing on the credibility of the evidence
accrued through these Summaries of Evidence, the COAS will decide on the
next legal step. It is categorically stated that the case will be
conducted strictly in accordance with due process of law and those
proven guilty of wrong doings will be brought to justice.
It is
further clarified that for recording of the Summaries of Evidence, it
was essential to bring the accused officers under PAA. Therefore,
accused retired officers were taken on the strength of the Army. This
was done in accordance with Pakistan Army Act Section 92, read in
conjunction with Section 40. The accused officers have neither been
re-hired nor reinstated. Similarly, their calling back for
investigations neither constitutes re-commissioning nor entitles them to
pay, or any other privileges. It is important to note that the cases
involving financial loss to the Government are not time barred and allow
application of PAA Section 92 and 90.

It must be appreciated that
for first time in the history of Pakistan Army, retired senior officers
have been recalled, taken on strength and subjected to thorough process
of investigation.
It is also important to note that Pakistan Army Act
is a substantive act of the Parliament and not a departmental law.
Likewise, another important aspect meriting attention is that Armed
Forces world over, without exception, are governed by separate
(military) laws. Therefore, the perception being created that the same
nature of offence is being dealt with under two different laws is
incorrect. Actually, military law world over, is inherently more strict
and provides for expeditious disposal of the cases.

To improve its
functionality, NLC was guided to apply four important  corrections in
its functioning i.e. restrict to core business as mandated by the 
Government, exercise better financial and management control, seek due /
formal approval of all decisions from NLB without exception and seek
necessary professional advice. As a result, NLC under direction of NLB,
as retired all its debt and bank loans amounting to approximately Rs 9.3
Billion and has posted a net profit of Rs 3 Billion at the close of
financial year 2011/12. As of today, NLC is on a positive trajectory,
involved in important projects all over the Country.

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