SC gives govt a month to issue NOC to former army chief

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has ruled the foreign employment of General (retd) Raheel Sharif shall cease with immediate effect if the federal government does not grant him a No Objection Certificate (NOC) within a month.

“Let the secretary, Ministry of Defence file a report in this regard within one month from the issuance of this judgement and in case the requisite NOC is not granted by the cabinet within such time, the foreign employment of General (retd) Raheel Sharif shall cease with immediate effect,” says the judgement issued by a three-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, in the dual nationalities case.

With respect to General (retd) Sharif, the judgement said that documents were filed showing NOC from the General Headquarters (GHQ) and the Ministry of Defence, but according to Section 3 of the Act of 1966, it is in fact the federal government which can grant permission to an ex-government servant to seek or take up employment as an officer or servant of a foreign government or agency.

Regarding Lt General (retd) Ahmad Shuja Pasha, he filed a duly signed certificate, wherein it is stated he did not take up any foreign employment in UAE or elsewhere abroad after his retirement. The court asked the federal government to submit annual reports to parliament regarding the implementation of the Act of 1966 prohibiting employment of former government servants with foreign governments and agencies.

The penalty for contravention of Section 3 of the Act is provided in Section 4 “imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years or with fine which may extend to Rs50,000, or with forfeiture of property, or with any two or more of the said punishments”.

As far as the armed forces are concerned, the judgment says, “According to the secretary, Ministry of Defence, recruitment of dual nationals is not permitted therein for which there exist relevant policies of the Army, Air Force and Navy; any dual nationals are required to surrender their foreign nationality prior to enrolment for induction in the armed forces of Pakistan.”

According to him, this position is reflected in the advertisements for recruitment and presently, there are no dual nationals recruited in such forces.

However, as directed vide order dated August 1, 2018, the Ministry of Defence secretary is required to continue the exercise to ascertain whether any dual nationals have been recruited in the armed forces on the basis of misdeclaration, concealment or non-disclosure and requisite action be taken in accordance with law by the concerned authority, says the verdict.