The recent leak of data from Credit Suisse, an investment banking firm registered in Switzerland which implicated the ex-ISI chief, General Akhtar Abdur Rahman Khan, has again brought to light the extent to which greed and corruption run amok in the Pakistan Army, especially among its Generals, a report said on Friday.
General Rahman had reportedly helped funnel billions of dollars in cash and other aid from the United States and other countries to the mujahedeen in Afghanistan to support their fight against the Soviet Union in the 1980s.
These leaked documents only touch the tip of the iceberg as far as how much the top Generals of the Pakistan Army skimmed in the name of the Holy War against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, The Times of Israel said.
The report asserted that the motto of the Pakistan Army officers seems to be ‘Greed is Good’. There are innumerable scandals and sordid stories of the financial bungling, bribery, extortion, influence peddling by serving and retired generals for personal profit. There are also reports of their involvement in smuggling rackets and narcotics trafficking.
In fact, in the 1990s, then Army Chief Aslam Beg and ISI Chief Asad Durrani proposed to start their own narcotics business to fund the ‘jihad’ against India and in Afghanistan, as also other parts of the world, the report said, citing a Washington Post article.
It is suspected that many Pakistani generals and bureaucrats have had secret Swiss Bank accounts with some of these accounts getting closed later because the money was either moved elsewhere or invested in business or property, the report said, citing the example of General Rahman’s sons who are one of the richest families in Pakistan with vast business interests.
The report enlists several examples of scandals and corrupt deals that the Pakistani Generals have been involved in over the past few years, including running extortion networks and protecting and partaking in smuggling networks in Balochistan, leasing out government properties at extremely low prices and even taking bribes in defence deals.
The corruption reaches the highest levels of the army with former Army Chief General Ashfaq Kiyani’s brothers involved in a multi-billion rupee housing scandal in Islamabad.
A Quetta Corps Commander Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa gained notoriety as “General Papa Jones” or “General Pizza” after an expose of how his family had invested tens of millions of dollars in the Papa Jones Pizza chain in the US and his sons were given lucrative contracts when this General was serving as the head of the ISPR. Despite the furore, no action, not even an inquiry was ordered.
The report also highlighted that it is not as if the Generals of Pakistan Army are underpaid and hence incentivised to be corrupt. A three-star general in the Pakistan Army retires as a billionaire in Pakistani rupees as the Pakistani state gives concessional plots, both commercial and residential and also huge grants of agricultural land. Officers of other ranks also get the goodies from the state.
A former army chief Raheel Sharif was allotted over 100 acres of prime agricultural land on the outskirts of Lahore after his retirement. This was in addition to all his other entitlements while another former Chief and Dictator General Pervez Musharraf built nearly 30 properties, including fancy farmhouses, luxury apartments in the Middle East and London, and houses in Karachi and other Pakistani cities, the report says.
The sordidness that exists in the Pakistan Army is no secret. And yet, the Army has painted itself as a knight in shining armour that is ever ready to sacrifice everything for the sake of the country, the report says, adding that the corruption is hardly surprising as the State of Pakistan does not have an army, the Pakistan Army has a State.