Servicemen taking over civilian posts injustice with youth: senator

ISLAMABAD: The recruitment of retired and serving military officials on civilian positions in the National Database Registration Authority (Nadra) was an injustice with the youth, Jamaat-i-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmed said.

In the past two years, several military officials have grabbed important government positions, which have traditionally been under the civilian domain. Just in February, Bilal Saeedullah Khan, a retired brigadier, was appointed director general of Nadra, forcing the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to serve notices on the Ministry of Interior and top Nadra management.

Some diplomatic positions, which have largely been held by civilians since independence, have been taken over by the servicemen as well. In January, the government appointed retired Gen Bilal Akbar to the post of Saudi Arabia ambassador.

The Senate Wednesday witnessed a heated debate over the recruitment of members of the armed forces in Nadra, with members from the opposition benches calling for specific details.

“I had questioned how many people are on deputation in Nadra and how many retired armed forces personnel are working in the agency,” said Ahmed.

The senator lamented that the answer he had been provided was unsatisfactory. He then explained he was asking about the exact number of former military men that were re-employed by the agency which comes under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior.

“According to my perception and information, a great number of retired servicemen have again been rehired in the agency despite rising unemployment trends nationwide.

I think giving such jobs with great privileges and perks again to those who have reached retirement age is an injustice with the youth,” Ahmed said.

Responding to the JI senator, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said six people were employed on deputation in Nadra and they were not retired military men.

PML-N Senator Azam Nazeer Tarar then further shaped the question and asked for precise details of the number of retired army officers employed, their date of appointment, their responsibilities and whether they had additional qualifications meriting their employment.

Khan — who termed Tarar’s question a “very good question” — said it would be answered in detail.

12 REPORTS OF STANDING BODIES PRESENTED

Meanwhile, 12 reports of several standing committees including Delegated Legislation, Interior, Human Rights, Narcotic Control and Communication were presented in the House.

The reports were presented by Tarar, Mohsin Aziz, Seemee Ezdi, Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhary and Kamil Ali Agha, respectively.

Tarar on behalf of Committee on Delegated Legislation Chairman Farooq H. Naek presented the report on about existing criteria, conditions and procedures of postings of chief secretaries and the appointment of Pakistan Administrative Officers (PAS) officers on the positions in the four provinces, and in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K) and Gilgit-Baltistan administrative units.

Standing Committee on Interior Chairman Aziz presented reports on the bill further to amend the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 (The Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2021) (Amendment of Section 510); the bill to amend the Islamabad Capital Territory Trust Act, 2020 (The Islamabad Capital Territory Trust (Amendment) Bill, 2020); and allotment of khokhas in Islamabad.

Similarly, Ezdi on behalf of Standing Committee on Human Rights Chairman Walid Iqbal presented reports on the bill to amend the Juvenile Justice System Act, 2018 (The Juvenile Justice System (Amendment) Bill, 2021); the Islamabad Capital Territory Child Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2021; the National Commission on the Rights of Child (Amendment) Bill, 2021; and the Protection against Harassment of women at the Workplace (Amendment) Bill, 2021.

It is pertinent to note that the Senate session was also marred by sloganeering and protests by the opposition benches over the National Security Policy (NSP) not being brought to parliament.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said matters of “life and death” were related to national security. While commending the policy’s focus on economic security, she criticised the manner in which it was unveiled.

Rehman said it was expected that the policy would be brought to the Senate since it was the upper house of parliament which was the “biggest forum for legislation and policymaking”. She said the draft policy was presented in the National Security Committee meeting on December 6 which the opposition had boycotted and explained the reasons for doing so.

Rehman said that while the opposition leaders had been called to the meeting, the prime minister did not want to appear in that meeting and unless he took input and critique, then any such meeting would be “meaningless”.

She said input should have been taken from parliament, civil society, think tanks and other stakeholders. Rehman criticised the discrepancy between the economic focus of the NSP and what she said were “ground realities” — pointing to the government’s action such as introducing a mini-budget or taking loans.

“What NSP is this which didn’t come in front of parliament and wasn’t debated on and which parliament has no role in,” she thundered while PTI Senator Mohsin Aziz interrupted her speech.

“You want to resurrect those groups who are announcing jihad against Pakistan and the state and mainstream them and accept them? What NSP is this which is economically centred that IMF (International Monetary Fund) will run?”

The session then saw a heated exchange between, Rehman and Aziz with the former calling on the Senate chairman to control the house.

“Black laws are being brought in their tenure and they’re being given the cover of National Security Policy. This is a disgusting joke with Pakistan and the parliament,” Rehman hit out before calling on the opposition benches to stage a walkout.

Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani repeatedly called on the treasury and opposition benches to return to their seats, ultimately succeeding in convincing the lawmakers to do so after some time.

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