The Pakistan government has rejected former defence secretary Lt Gen (retired) Khalid Naeem Lodhi's claim that he was sacked on charges of misconduct without being given a hearing, saying he had been fired in the "national interest".
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani sacked Lodhi, considered to be very close to army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, on Wednesday for submitting an affidavit on the Memogate scandal to the Supreme Court without getting the approval of the defence minister.
Gilani accused Lodhi of "gross misconduct" and said his actions had caused "misunderstanding between state institutions". Lodhi on Friday questioned his sacking, saying no inquiry was conducted and that he was given no chance to explain his position.
However, a spokesman for the Establishment Division said Lodhi sent letters to the Supreme Court without seeking approval of the defence minister, which was mandatory, and without getting his comments vetted by the Law Ministry as required under the Rules of Business of 1973.
The spokesman said the defence minister had sought an explanation from Lodhi for "not observing legal provisions".
Lodhi said in his reply that he was new to the job and was ignorant of the rules, the spokesman said.
The defence minister referred the matter to the Law Ministry after receiving the defence secretary’s explanation. The Law Ministry said Lodhi's action was in "utter and gross violation" of the mandatory rules and had created "misunderstandings among the institutions", the spokesman said.
On the recommendation of the Law Ministry and the defence minister, the Prime Minister terminated Lodhi's contract in the national interest.
The spokesman said Lodhi was a contract employee and his service could be terminated without assigning any reason with a prior notice of 30 days or payment of a month's salary.
Significantly, Lodhi spoke to the media yesterday about his plans to approach court over his sacking after a meeting with Gen Kayani.
"I have done nothing wrong. My reply in the Supreme Court on the memo case was in line with the rules of business," he claimed.
Lodhi confirmed to The Express Tribune that he had met Kayani but insisted it had nothing to do with his decision to approach the court.
"I was his (Kayani's) corps commander and I meet him regularly," he said.
Asked about Kayani's reaction, Lodhi said: "He expressed his disappointment over my sacking."
Lodhi, who retired as the corps commander of Bahawalpur last year, has reportedly been encouraged by the military top brass to challenge his sacking in court.
Lodhi earned Prime Minister Gilani's ire because he stated in his affidavit filed in the apex court that the government had no "operational control" over the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.