Islamabad, Aug 1: Pakistan's Supreme Court today asked the government how it allowed former army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif and ex-ISI boss Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha to take up jobs abroad despite a law barring officers from accepting employment for two years post-retirement, according to media reports. Hearing a case of dual nationalities of Pakistan government employees, a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Saqib Nisar, observed that former army chief General (retd) Sharif and Director-General of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General (retd) Pasha found employment abroad within two-years after retirement, the Express Tribune reported.
After retirement in 2016, Gen. Sharif left for Riyadh to head a military alliance of Muslim countries led by Saudi Arabia. According to Pakistani media reports, after retirement in 2012, the former ISI chief worked with a multinational firm based in the UAE. He now serves as group chief adviser to a Lahore-based firm owned by a Pakistani politician.
"According to the law, government officers cannot sign an employment contract abroad for two years after their retirement. Generals Pasha and Sharif, both, found employment abroad. Is the law not applicable to army officers?" chief justice Nisar asked.
The powerful military -- which has ruled Pakistan for roughly half its 70 year history -- remains the country's most powerful institution. Defence Secretary Lt Gen (retd) Zamir-ul-Hassan Shah informed the apex court that both retired officers had obtained a no-objection certificate (NOC) prior to leaving the country for employment. In response, the chief justice noted that those who serve the country at top positions are privy to sensitive information.
"Individuals who have headed sensitive departments should, in fact, be provided security," the report quoted Justice Nisar as saying. The defence secretary then informed the apex court that the federal government had permitted both generals to sign foreign employment contracts.
However, Shah, who served in the army as the adjutant general, admitted he was unsure of the rules barring government servants from obtaining foreign employment till two years after their retirement.bThe chief justice observed that it is to be seen how this permission was granted.
"We will see how the permission was granted, and what is its nature and duration. These individuals should have obtained the cabinet's permission [prior to their departure]," noted Justice Nisar.
On the issue of dual citizenship, the defence secretary said the armed forces do not recruit dual citizens and any dual citizen accepted by the army has to give up their foreign nationality. The top judge also ordered the defence secretary to ensure that dual citizens were not presently employed by the Pakistani armed forces.