Pakistan’s powerful military chief, General Raheel Sharif, has dismissed a group of top officers from service over corruption charges.
A lieutenant-general, one major-general, and three brigadiers and a colonel were among those fired after a year-long internal army probe found them guilty of corruption, military sources confirmed to VOA.
“All the officers [have been] sent home on corruption,” the sources said.
The ousted officers were all serving in the paramilitary Frontier Corps based in southwestern Baluchistan province.
Army spokespeople were not immediately available to comment on the development that dominated headlines Thursday on Pakistani television stations.
The local media put the number of fired army officers at 11, describing the move as unprecedented in the history of the Pakistani army.
General Sharif has been widely praised at home and outside Pakistan for undertaking significant military actions against terrorist and extremist groups operating in the country.
But in recent days, he has called for uprooting “the menace of corruption” in Pakistan to sustain gains the army-led counterterrorism operations have made in recent years.
“Therefore, across the board accountability is necessary for the solidarity, integrity and prosperity of Pakistan,” said General Sharif, who is not related to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
PM Sharif under pressure
The reported dismissals come as the prime minister is under growing pressure, including demands for him to resign, after documents leaked from a Panama-based law firm revealed his children own several offshore companies.
The documents showed three of his children owned offshore companies that hold luxury residential property in London.
But Prime Minister Sharif has ignored calls for establishing an inquiry commission under Pakistan’s chief justice, and assisted by international auditors, to determine the legality of the Sharif family's foreign assets.
Responding to questions about whether firing the army officers could increase pressure on Prime Minister Sharif, defense and security analyst Maria Sultan said, “I think any decision, which comes against corruption, definitely leads to pressure for people who would think otherwise."
Prime Minister Sharif’s two previous elected governments in the 1990s were dismissed for widespread corruption and misrule, though he rejected the allegations as politically-motivated. Corruption allegations are also engulfing his current government.
The army has staged repeated coups in Pakistan, prompting some critics to suggest it is again creating grounds for another interference in the democratic process.