INFORMATION received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under the right to information law, identified a total of 164 civil and military Pakistani government pensioners residing abroad, who are paid pension every month in foreign exchange that is sent from Pakistan.

The yearly burden of this select few government pensioners is Rs200 million; and every single penny of it in foreign exchange. By providing these special favours, the Foreign Office and the officer of the Accountant-General Pakistan (AGP) are basically indulging in serious violations.

They are violating Article 25 of the Constitution, which declares equality of all citizens before law. While doing so, they also harm the vital interests of Pakistan. Besides, the payment of pensions in various currencies to a ‘çhosen few’ is depriving Pakistan of its most critical and deficient resource; foreign exchange.

This is a country that has to sell its self-respect, and compromise its sovereignty to beg for every single dollar. When Pakistan is fighting its battle for financial survival, how can these two state entities decide to provide special indulgence to an elite group of 164 individuals by granting them the luxury of receiving their pensions in foreign exchange?

The illogical, if not illegal, practice must come to an immediate end, and all pensions of all retired government officials should be paid only in Pakistani currency. The Foreign Office and the AGP must rise to the call of their conscience, stop promoting elitism, create equality for all citizens, and protect the interests of Pakistan.

Naeem Sadiq
Karachi

Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2023

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