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Pakistan: Lt Gen jailed, Brigadier gets death for espionage

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Pakistan's Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa has signed death warrants for two army and one civil officer on charges of espionage and leakage of sensitive information to foreign agencies prejudicial to the national security, the army announced Thursday (May 30).

Lieutenant General (retd) Javed Iqbal Awan was awarded 14 years rigorous imprisonment by the Field General Court Martial (FCGM). The FGCM also awarded death sentence to Brigadier (retd) Raja Rizwan and Dr Wasim Akram, who was employed at a sensitive organization.

The officers were tried under the Pakistan Army Act (PAA) and Official Secret Act by Field General Court Martial (FCGM) in separate cases, the ISPR said on Thursday.

Lieutenant General (retd) Javed Iqbal Awan had been Corps Commander Bahawalpur, Adjutant General of Pakistan Army and Director General Military Operations.

Director General ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor, while addressing a news conference in the last week of February, had confirmed that two senior officers were in military custody on charges of espionage and that the COAS had also ordered their Field General Court Martial.

He also told media persons that the retired army officers were arrested in individual cases, there was no link between them and also there was no network working. "It should also be kept in mind that the issue was identified and it was a big success," he said.

"The disposal of cases today by the COAS is testimony of strict across-the-board accountability system of armed forces. These were three separate cases. Punishment awarded to the officers is of maximum degree in the law corresponding to their respective offence," the DG ISPR said in a statement on Thursday.

The ISPR statement did not contain any further details of the offences committed by the three and it also did not name the countries with which the convicts allegedly were dealing, but Director General ISPR Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor had confirmed the arrests of the senior officers at a press conference on February 22 this year.

In recent past, Lt Gen (retd) Asad Durrani, former ISI chief, also faced court martial for writing a book jointly with an ex-RAW (Indian Intelligence Agency) chief. Two other senior officers Lt Gen (R) M Afzal and Major General Khalid Zahid Akhtar also faced court martial in National Logistic Cell scandal which involves investment of over Rs 4 billion in stock market.

The News quoted Defense analysts as saying that in the last little over two years, around 400 military officers faced court martial and they were awarded different punishments which also include dismissal from service. Other punishments include reprimand, warning, caution, reduction in privileges, cut in salaries etc. Military officers from every rank are included in the list.

The analysts said the real accountability is that which is visible to all. They said whatever has been said, has also been acted upon. They said the military officers from every rank come under the ambit of accountability. They said the accountability of Lt Gen (R) Asad Durrani was also made under similar policy. They said the policy of 'accountability for all' will also be followed in letter and spirit in future.

Political observers say that the public announcement of the death sentences and imprisonment of a Lt. General is a warning to civilian political leaders who are facing serious money laundering charges that they cannot escape accountability.

Currently, former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif is in jail because he was unable to prove trail of his property outside Pakistan. In July 2017, he was removed from the office by the Supreme Court because his family could not account for its finances and opulent purchases of houses in the UK.

Similarly former President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari is also facing charges of mega money laundering through fake bank accounts.

Political observers also pointed out that the Army's announcement of harsh sentence to senior army officers is also aimed at silencing those quarters who claim that there is no accountability for army.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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