TAXILA: The announcement of a long-awaited raise for employees of the Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) on Monday was overshadowed by security concerns after agencies warned that the annual Labour Day ceremony at the installation may be targeted by terrorists.
This perturbed Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan who was to be the chief guest at Monday’s ceremony, prompting him to question the “effectiveness and abilities” of security agencies that could not ensure the safety of sensitive installations such as POF.
The interior minister, along with Kashmir Affairs Minister Barjees Tahir and Defence Production Minister Rana Tanveer Hussain, was present at the ceremony where the extra remuneration and incentives for over 20 thousand employees of 14 different arms and ammunition producing POF units was unveiled.
The package was announced by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during a visit to POF in February this year.
Security threat overshadows Labour Day ceremony at POF
According to local police, two suspected terrorists were killed in an exchange of fire early on Monday morning. The incident ostensibly sparked off a terror threat, which was reported to the interior ministry by the agencies concerned.
In a statement released by the interior ministry before his address, the minister said that if POF workers were not safe even on Labour Day, then he had no concern for his safety either. “The May Day ceremony at POF is a long-standing tradition and, God-willing, the other federal ministers and I will participate in the ceremony as planned,” the statement said.
Private media, which was invited to cover the event, was eventually not allowed access to the ceremony and coverage was limited to state-run media only.
In his address, the interior minister lauded the role of POF workers in strengthening the defence of the realm. POF workers, he said, stood shoulder to shoulder with the armed forces and fulfilled their requirements for arms and ammunition. The arms manufactured there, he said, gave our enemies sleepless nights.
Chaudhry Nisar announced a special financial incentive package for POF employees, including 25 additional allowances and two increments. He said that this package would cost the national kitty an additional Rs102 million, and reiterated his commitment that no part of the factories would be privatised while the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was in power.
He also announced a decision to form a high-powered committee in the next financial year to resolve problems faced by POF employees.
The POF is located in Wah Cantonment, which is ordinarily off-limits to civilians and unauthorised personnel. All outsiders require special permission to enter the city.
Published in Dawn, May 2nd, 2017