The federal cabinet on Tuesday approved a special allowance of 15 per cent of the running basic pay for armed forces personnel of all ranks, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry said.
This raises the total increment being given to armed forces personnel to 25pc after an ad hoc relief allowance at 10pc of the basic pay was approved in the budget for the new fiscal year by the federal cabinet last month.
The Finance Division had earlier presented a summary to the federal cabinet in this regard, which states that the chairperson of the Pay and Pension Commission had forwarded recommendations for "interim relief" for the armed forces in order to "keep their morale high".
"It is, therefore proposed, that a Special Allowance 2021 @15% of the running basic pay may be allowed to all ranks of the armed forced with effect from 01.07.2021. The total impact would be Rs38 billion per annum," it reads.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad after the cabinet meeting, Chaudhry said there had been no increase in the salaries of armed forces personnel for the last two years.
"They (armed forces) had frozen their salaries. On the civil side, discretionary allowances up to 25pc were given to Secretariat [employees] and a general allowance of 10pc was given to civil employees. To make it equal, special allowance of up to 25pc is being given [to armed forces personnel] after two years."
Chaudhry said the special allowances were not being given to Rangers and Frontier Corps (FC) personnel for now, but the prime minister said "discussion should be done to include them." Therefore, officials from the interior ministry and the finance ministry would hold meetings and it was expected that the salaries of Rangers and FC personnel would also be increased, he added.
Govt maintains ban on TLP
Chaudhry said the government has decided to maintain the ban imposed on the Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) earlier this year after the party's workers staged three days of violent protests across the country.
He said the report by the committee, constituted to review the TLP's appeal against the ban, was presented in the meeting of the federal cabinet.
"The cabinet was told that after listening to the stance of Punjab government and the party and after investigating the matter, the committee has decided that the decision to ban [TLP] was done on merit and facts."
Chaudhry recalled that there were allegations against the TLP of torturing and killing policemen, setting fires and damaging property, adding: "Keeping this in view, the cabinet has agreed with the committee's report and decided to maintain the ban on them (TLP)."
In the second phase, the law ministry and the attorney general for Pakistan would approach the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for the cancellation of the party's election symbol, he said.
The government had formally banned the TLP on April 15. The development followed three days of violent protests staged by TLP activists against the arrest of their leader, Saad Hussain Rizvi.
A notification declaring TLP a proscribed organisation was issued by the interior ministry shortly after the federal cabinet, through a circular notice, approved a summary to ban the party.
The TLP had decided to appeal the ban, following which the government constituted a committee comprising two representatives of the interior ministry and one from the law ministry, to decide on the appeal within 30 days.
Last week, the Punjab government extended Rizvi's preventive detention for another 90 days.
'Very concerned' about Afghanistan situation
The minister said that the government was "very concerned" about the worsening situation in Afghanistan and was making efforts to ensure that a situation was not created in which Afghans would have to leave their homes.
He said that the global community should "stand with Pakistan" instead of simply predicting the number of Afghan refugees. Chaudhry said Pakistan was observing the situation in Afghanistan and "full efforts" were being made to learn from past experiences and form a policy.
"This isn't only the responsibility of Pakistan but of the whole world," he said. "You cannot only come and [destroy] the country and then say [Pakistan can deal with it]. The international community and countries should fulfill their responsibilities. Pakistan's full effort is [geared towards ensuring] peace in Afghanistan."
Encroachment in Islamabad
Chaudhry said Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed a "lot of concern" over encroachments on Islamabad's green areas and had directed the Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Navy to remove their walls/other security arrangements from the green areas as well.
"They have started acting on it. When institutions like the air force and navy do not have that permission, there is no question that anybody else will be given permission" to build on green areas, he stressed, adding that the federal cabinet has instructed the chairman of the Capital Development Authority (CDA) to make Islamabad an "encroachment-free city".
During the meeting, the prime minister said the government's plantation campaign this monsoon season would be the "biggest in Pakistan's history" in which 50 million trees would be planted. He also directed all ministers to participate in the plantation campaign, Chaudhry shared.
The federal government also approved a three-day holiday for Eidul Azha starting from July 20, he said.
A report on security protocols would be presented to the prime minister next week after which "standards will be reviewed and security rationalised," he added.