Tuesday Jan 18, 2022
ISLAMABAD: PPP Senator Raza Rabbani said Tuesday he was not against the military, but against the militarisation of civilian institutions, as the Upper House of Parliament debated over the appointment of armed forces personnel to state-run organisations.
Speaking on the floor of the House, the ex-chairman Senate asked: "Is it not true that the director-general of the Anti-Narcotics Force is a soldier? Is it not true that the directors of SUPARCO and PTA belong to the army? Is it not true that the chairman of the Naya Pakistan Housing Scheme belongs to the army? Is it not true that chairmen of ERRA, WAPDA, and a member of the economic advisory committee [...] directors of civil aviation, NDMA, and a member of the FPCS belong to the army?"
Rabbani said he named around 15 offices of government institutions where personnel of the armed forces were appointed. "Will the minister [Ali Muhammad Khan] deny or accept this?"
In response, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan told Rabbani to not lecture the treasury bench on the civil-military balance.
"His party's (PPP) ex-chairman (Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto) was the first civilian to become the civilian martial law administrator [...] ex-prime minister Benazir Bhutto also appointed Gen (retd) Naseerullah Babar as the interior minister," Khan said.
The minister questioned whether the ANF needed "a person with a uniform". He noted that when the situation got out of hand in Murree — where 23 people lost their lives due to heavy snowfall — the military had to be called in.
"I can name 1,500 institutions where civilians hold offices [...] stop doing hatred-based politics," Khan added.
Before Rabbani, JI Senator Mushtaq Ahmed said he had sought details of personnel from the army, air force, and the navy, who are appointed to the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA).
The senator said unemployment was increasing in the country, "but retired officials from the armed forces are being reappointed" to state-run institutions.
"NADRA has appointed dozens of armed forces officers [...] why don't you take their names? They have occupied the entire NADRA," Senator Ahmed asked Khan.
In a session last month, Opposition leaders in the Senate sought details of retired military officials appointed to NADRA.
The senators' demand came after the Ministry of Interior submitted a detailed answer in the Senate, where it stated that none of the 13,997 employees of NADRA belong to the military — whether on service or retired.
Responding to the queries, Khan had asked the senators to submit the questions afresh so the Ministry of Interior could reply accordingly.
Meanwhile, in today's session, Khan said senator Ahmed had sought details about on-duty armed forces officers who were appointed to the database authority.
"No officer, on deputation, is appointed to NADRA [...] the army is there for the country's protection, what could be the reason behind this hatred?" he wondered.
In response, Chairman Senate Sadiq Sanjrani asked the lawmakers to submit their questions and that he would seek a reply in this regard from relevant authorities again.
The chairman then adjourned the Senate meeting till Friday.