Pak army recalls officers from civil departments

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Islamabad, Feb 12 (UNI) Pakistan army has called back all its serving officers from 23 civil departments, in what is being termed here as part of a plan to improve the image of the armed forces.

''More than 300 army officers are presently working in various civil departments and majority of them have been asked to report to the General Headquarters (GHQ) immediately,'' chief military spokesman Maj-Gen Athar Abbas said.

He said the army authorities had written a letter to the federal government asking it to relieve all serving military officers from civil departments.

The move is in line with a decision taken by the 106th Corps Commanders' Conference on February 7. The conference was presided over by Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who had in an earlier statement, directed army officers to ''stay away from political activities,'' Dawn newspaper reported.

The army chief's decisions about reversal of officers from civil departments and restrictions on meeting politicians have been lauded by the civil society and all major political parties.

The induction of army officers in civil organisations has always been a controversial issue and has been questioned on different forums, including parliament.

Gen Abbas said army officers would be withdrawn in phases over a period of two to six months. ''We have asked the federal government to relieve those army officials immediately who can be replaced easily,'' he said.

''Those who cannot be replaced at once will be called back in two to six months.'' Maj-Gen Abbas said some of the officers who were serving on sensitive posts in civil departments would continue in their present positions as the government required their services for some more time. He said such officials would return to their parent department as and when the federal government relieved them.

He said the process of army officers' induction into the civilian departments had started under a decision taken in 1981 by former president and army chief General Ziaul Haq. With the passage of time, he said, the number of military officers in civil departments kept rising.

He said the army officers would not be inducted into the civil departments in future.

UNI XC SYU HT1642

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