Six senior Army officers were dismissed due to their alleged involvement in corruption, according to widespread media reports on 21 April. The military usually handles such procedures quietly, ostensibly to protect morale, and so the information was seemingly leaked deliberately. The Army was itself most likely responsible for the disclosure, as it came two days after the Chief of Staff General Raheel Sharif said that the armed forces supported efforts to eliminate graft.
Corruption has become a prominent issue since the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) alleged that Prime Minister Sharif accumulated wealth illicitly during his premiership in the 1990s. The PTI’s claims followed the Panama Papers leak earlier this month, which revealed that Sharif’s children own offshore firms and have lucrative real estate holdings (see our 15 April Report). Senior military figures have been accused of financial wrongdoing in the past, and so the Army may fear that the focus could shift from political to military leaders. This would inevitably aggravate popular disillusionment with the establishment, which the Taliban would seek to exploit to discredit the armed forces and enhance its own support. The military therefore wants to pre-empt any such accusations by demonstrating a resolve to counter graft, and so protecting the Army’s credibility.