Islamabad - In an extraordinary development Army Chief General Raheel Sharif has reportedly dismissed at least six senior officers of Pakistan Army on corruption charges.

All the officers – one lieutenant general, one major general, three brigadiers and one colonel – had their postings in Frontier Corps Balochistan.

Military sources said that the decision was a result of a long process of inquiry, but the fate of these officers was sealed by the army chief yesterday.

Although, there has been no official confirmation from the military media wing Inter-services Public Relations (ISPR) till filing of this report, it was learnt through credible sources in the military establishment that they were involved in large scale smuggling and corruption.

According to the sources, the senior most in the list of dismissed officers is Lt-Gen Obaidullah Khattak who has served as Commandant FC Balochistan and was last posted as Inspector General Arms and Weapons at General Headquarters.

The second senior-most dismissed officer is Major-Gen Ejaz Shahid, who was last posted as Commandant FC Balochistan. The list also included three brigadiers – Brig Asad Shahzada, Brig Saifullah and Brig Amir – and a colonel.

Sources said that Army Chief General Raheel Sharif took the decision in the light of finding of a thorough investigation conducted by then Adjutant Gen Zubair Mahmood Hayat.

The charged officers were asked to return all earnings accumulated through corruption and except pensions, all their perks and privileges have been withdrawn from them.

The move comes two days after the powerful Army Chief called for across the board accountability at a ceremony in Kohat at a time when Panama leaks had hit country’s political horizon, and hours before the arrival of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from London after medical checkup.

General Raheel had said that elimination of corruption is essential for country’s solidarity, integrity, prosperity and the future generations, and offered all out cooperation of the armed forces to purge the country of scourge of corruption. Importantly, he said corruption had to be uprooted to fight terrorism effectively and meaningfully.

Around 220 Pakistanis, including three children of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, have been named in the massive leak of documents from a Panama-based law firm about their accumulated wealth through offshore business.

Prime Minister Nawaz has rejected allegations of money laundering, claiming that his children have legitimate businesses abroad, and has called for the establishment of an inquiry commission.

Analysts and experts have largely lauded the move of the army chief because of wrongdoings committed within Pakistan Army.

“It’s an extraordinary development,” leading defence analyst Lt-Gen (r) Talat Masood said while commenting on the rare development in Pakistan Army.

“The military has taken the lead in punishing corrupt officials and has set an excellent example. It will have a very serious and positive impact in the future. Those who are corrupt should be worried now.”

In August 2015, two retired generals were punished for corruption amounting to Rs4.3 billion in the National Logistic Cell (NLC).

Following the inquiry, the two accused retired generals – Lt-Gen (r) Muhammad Afzal Muzaffar and Maj Gen (r) Khalid Zahir Akhtar – were punished under the Pakistan Army Act.

According to details Maj Gen (r) Khalid Zahir Akhter had been dismissed from service, which implies; forfeiture of rank, decorations, medals, honours, awards, seizure of pension, recovery of personal gains, cancellation of service benefits and all other allied facilities,” the ISPR had said at that time.

It added that Lt-Gen (r) Muhammad Afzal Muzaffar had been awarded ‘Severe Displeasure (Recordable)’ which is a disciplinary award due to an offence of lesser degree, such as violation of procedures but not for personal gain.

Lt-Gen (r) Khalid Munir Khan, who was also among the accused, was not found involved in any financial irregularity or serious misconduct and therefore he stood absolved of all charges.

Agencies add: Military officials insist that accountability within the forces is an ongoing process, though often kept secret for reasons of morale. But this time there has been what looks like a deliberate leak.

Observers say the timing of the sackings and the remarks by Gen Sharif are designed to put pressure on Nawaz government.

The timing of the disclosure is significant. It will not only increase pressure on Mr Sharif, but also deflect muted but growing references to corruption within the military, which many believe runs deeper than it seems.

They say that while the military’s internal systems work as a well-oiled machine, audit rules often crumble when it comes to the accounting of procurement and supplies. There have also been long-standing allegations that senior officials controlling border posts have been protecting smugglers.

And questions have been raised over the use of unaudited funds that until recently flowed to various militant networks through military agencies, though the agencies have often denied such a role.