–Army chief General Bajwa ratifies convicted officer’s life sentence over ‘misuse of authority’
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa has confirmed the sentence of life imprisonment awarded to a serving major for misusing his authority, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) announced in a statement on Tuesday.
Prior to the sentence, the major was tried by a Field General Court Martial which found him guilty of misusing his authority.
“Pakistan Army, alive to its institutional accountability system has dismissed the officer from service and sent him to jail for life,” the ISPR statement read. However, the statement did not reveal the name of the officer or any further details of the case against him.
According to a report in Independent Urdu, the army officer, in an utter abuse of power, abducted a young child for ransom from Noushki, Balochistan, in 2016. He demanded Rs5.8million from the victim’s family, said the report, adding that the major didn’t release the child even after he was paid off by the family.
Subsequently, he demanded Rs5m more, which left the family no option but to hold a protest outside the Quetta Press Club. Then Quetta Corps Commander Lt General Amir Riaz took notice of the incident and initiated proceedings against the said officer, the report claimed.
According to the report, the major was found guilty by a Field General Court Martial, which expelled him from the force and sentenced him to 25 years in prison. However, the convict filed a review appeal against the verdict in the General Headquarters Military Branch, said the report quoting unnamed military sources.
The verdict, however, was upheld by the authorities.
The decision was sent to the army chief for ratification later on, which was approved on Tuesday.
Earlier on May 31, Gen Bajwa endorsed punishment to two senior retired army officers and one civil officer “on the charges of espionage/leakage of sensitive information to foreign agencies prejudice to the national security”, according to an ISPR press release.
“The officers were tried under Pakistan Army Act (PAA) and Official Secret Act by separate Field General Court Martial (FGCM) for separate cases,” said the statement issued by the military’s media wing.
On Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan approved a three-year extension in the tenure of Gen Bajwa.
As per a notification issued by the PM Office, the decision has been “taken in view of the regional security environment”.
General Bajwa was appointed as COAS on November 26, 2016, by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. He took over command of Pakistan’s military from General (r) Raheel Sharif, despite being fourth in order of seniority. His extension marks the second time in nearly a decade that the country’s top general had their traditional three-year term extended.
Prime Minister Imran’s first year in office has been characterised by a rare harmony in the traditionally fraught relationship between the country’s civilian and military leaderships, with Gen Bajwa last month defending the tough economic measures taken by the PTI government as “difficult but extremely essential”.