ISLAMABAD: The government informed the Senate on Wednesday that Rs513 billion had been paid as pension to retired personnel of the armed forces since 2011 from the “civilian kitty”.
The information was placed before the house by Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif in a written reply to a question asked by Farhatullah Babar of the PPP.
Giving the year-wise data, the minister told senators that Rs105.98bn was paid to the retired defence service personnel in the year 2011-12, Rs131.74bn in 2012-13 and Rs142.89bn in 2013-14.
Providing additional information, the minister disclosed that Rs132.64bn had been given to pensioners of the armed forces during the year 2014-15. However, the minister said “this is supplementary information for the year 2014-15 as the financial year has not yet been closed”.
In his question, submitted to the Senate Secretariat on July 13, Senator Babar had asked the defence minister to give details of “the amount paid as pension to the defence service personnel during the last three years with the year-wise break-up”.
In the second part of his question, he had asked the minister to explain “whether the said pension is reflected in the defence budget and, if not, the date since when it is not reflected and the reasons for the same”.
Responding to this part of the question, Mr Asif said that “expenditure on account of said pension is not being reflected in the defence budget since July 2000”.
Senate informed that the expenditure is not being reflected in defence budget
“The decision to charge the defence services pension to the civil estimates was made for the purpose of (having) one budget demand both for civil and defence pensions,” he replied without explaining why the decision was taken.
In 2000, former army chief Gen Pervez Musharraf was ruling the country as the “chief executive” after toppling the PML-N government in October 1999.
Meanwhile, the senators continued to condemn the government for its action against slum-dwellers in Islamabad. Members of opposition expressed their concern over registration of cases under the anti-terrorist act against those who had resisted the operation against the I-11 katchi abadi and also against some political activists for holding protest demonstrations against the Islamabad administration.
Almost all the speakers called for withdrawal of the cases. They criticised the government for taking this extreme action without providing an alternative place and without paying any compensation to the poor people who had been living there since 1995.
Mr Babar and PML-Q’s Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that on the one hand farmhouses had illegally been converted into huge palaces by the rich and influential people and the CDA had been sitting idle despite court orders, but on the other it had shown haste in razing the mud houses of the poor people in the name of implementation of a court order.
Mr Babar asked the government to take notice that huge plots of land acquired by armed forces for defence personnel throughout the country had been converted into residential complexes, golf courses and other recreational spots.
Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani later referred the matter to the committee for cabinet secretariat when State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Aftab Ahmed Sheikh tried to justify the demolition of the katchi abadi, stating that the operation had been carried out on the orders of the high court on petitions filed by 490 persons who were to be allotted the land as compensation for handing over their ancestral land to the CDA.
The senators expressed serious concern over non-completion of Lowari Tunnel project despite passage of 42 years when it was launched by the then prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.
The issue was raised by Samina Abid of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) through a calling-attention notice.
Published in Dawn, August 6th, 2015