Sunday, April 24, 2016

Justice for generals: public information in Pakistan

Dawn, the leading Pakistani daily, pays sustained attention to military legal matters. Its latest contribution, here, discussed the army's lack of transparency when  it comes to adverse administrative or disciplinary action against senior officers. Excerpt:
According to retired Maj-Gen Rashid Qureshi, former Director General Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the military’s spokesman releases information with the approval of Chief of General Staff (CGS), who gives the green signal after the consent of the Chief of Army Staff (COAS). 
He explained that the military “in routine” does not make public information regarding dismissal of its officers or punishment awarded to them by the military courts. 
So much so that “even the story of the punishment awarded to a Lt-Gen and Maj-Gen in the NLC [National Logistics Cell] case was shocking to me as well as to other serving and retired officers,” said Qureshi.
Dawn also ran an editorial, praising the actions taken in recent corruption cases but noting miscues in the dissemination of information to the public.
Rather than official comment, the media was given inaccurate early information by a clutch of unnamed military officials. 
Even after clarification was offered about the number of officers acted against — earlier reports had suggested a larger number of officers had been found guilty of corruption — there were no details shared regarding the charges that the officers faced or the findings of the court. 
Nevertheless, it is a beginning — the guilty being found guilty by their own institution suggests a new willingness to focus on professionalism and probity.
Without reliable information on the disposition of cases, it is difficult to see how the public can have confidence in the administration of military justice. 

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