How can Gen Raheel Sharif, Shuja Pasha join foreign jobs soon after retirement, asks CJP Nisar

  • Supreme Court orders defense secretary to submit copies of NOCs issued to former army and ISI chiefs

ISLAMABAD – The Supreme Court has inquired how former chief of army staff and ex-head of Pakistan’s premier spy agency could join foreign jobs despite a law barring them from it for two years after the retirement.

A three-member bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, was hearing a case pertaining to dual nationalities of civil servants and judges. The top judge, during the hearing, observed that General (retd) Raheel Sharif, former army chief, and Lt Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha, ex-ISI chief, had joined employment in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, respectively, without completing mandatory two years post-retirement gap.

He also remarked that any government official, under the law, could not take up foreign job without completing the set term, adding, “Is that law not applicable to the army officers?”

In response, defence secretary retired Lt Gen Zamirul Hassan informed the court that both army men joined service in foreign lands after getting no-objection certificates from the federal government.

The apex court, then, ordered Hassan to submit the NOCs issued by the government to Sharif, who is heading  Islamic Military Counterterrorism Coalition in Saudi Arabia, and Pasha who accepted job in the UAE. The court will examine whether the NOCs were issued by the cabinet.

Attorney General Khalid Jawed Khan explained that the federal government could allow the civil servants to take up jobs in abroad.

The defence secretary, however, explained before the court that no officer in the armed forces held foreign nationality.

The chief justice observed, “We will see how the permission was granted, and what is its nature and duration,” adding, “These individuals should have obtained the cabinet’s permission”.

During the hearing, the bench issued notices to 27 civil servants directing them to come up with an explanation for holding dual nationality.

The SC also asked the defence secretary to submit complete details about the officers of the armed forces and their spouses who hold dual nationalities.

The defence secretary, however, explained before the court that no officer in the armed forces held foreign nationality.

The top judge also ordered the defence secretary to ensure that dual citizens were not presently employed by the armed forces. “We have earlier conducted a similar exercise among the civil forces,” Justice Nisar remarked.

The top court, however, remarked that certain offices should not be occupied by individuals enjoying foreign nationality.

“If parliamentarians could be disqualified for having dual nationality then the same rule should also apply to the officers working in sensitive departments,” the Chief Justice cautioned.

During the hearing, Chairman of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), Usman Yousuf Mobeen told the court that according to the data provided by the federal and the provincial governments, 1,116 officers out of a total of 228,769 government officials were dual nationals whereas the spouses of 1,249 government servants enjoyed the same privilege.

Meanwhile, senior counsel Shahid Hamid appeared as an amicus curiae (friend of the court) and presented a set of proposals, highlighting that a few years ago the information ministry had issued a notification suggesting that no foreigners could work in government departments like the communication, water and power, petroleum and defence.