ISLAMABAD: Finance Ministry’s advice to PM: No security allowance for civil and armed forces
Finance Ministry covertly warned Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani to halt the payment of Rs3.6 billion internal security duty (ISD) allowance to personnel of the Pakistan Army and Frontier Constabulary (FC) troops stationed in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, FATA and Balochistan for the remaining period of the fiscal year 2010-11.
The finance ministry officials contended that since an allowance equal to one month’s basic pay had already been sanctioned for the security forces, “the finance division does not support the continuation of Internal Security Allowance during 2010-2011”.
The finance ministry was not ready to make ISD payments in the first quarter of 2010-2011, believing that the national exchequer was low on funds, prove official documents available with The Express Tribune.
This development alarmed top officials in the ministry of defence and FC headquarters in Balochistan, who in a high level meeting with their counterparts in the interior and finance ministries secured the approval for ISD in 2010-2011.
The approval was granted, but only for the first quarter of 2010-2011 for which the finance ministry agreed to pay a total of Rs3.6 billion to the Pakistan Army and FC. finance ministry officials, on being warned that the discontinuation of ISD would not help the war against terror while troops were engaged in fighting various insurgencies in the country, were forced to yield. Once again finance ministry officials have reined back payments for the next quarter as the financial situation is quite ‘tight’.
Earlier, Secretary Defence Lt-Gen Syed Athar Ali had officially requested the interior secretary for similar allowances for FC troops fighting in volatile areas of the country, warning the government that discrimination in the payment of allowances to the FC in comparison to the army has resulted in ‘despondency and demoralization’. The government had subsequently approved the payment of Rs1.5 billion for FC troops in addition to Rs2.5billion for the army on account of ISD. The issue of granting the FC allowances identical to the Pakistan Army was raised by the ministry of interior in its official summary at the latest cabinet meeting.
The ministry of defence had informed the ministry of interior that the Army had restored peace in large areas of K-P and Fata by suppressing the militants and civil armed forces were also engaged in conducting operations, sacrificing their lives for the country, therefore they should be granted identical allowances during operations Rah-e-Rast and Rah-e-Najat, sources said.
FC headquarters had persuaded the ministry of defence to accede to their request stating that since after taking over the charge of the operational areas, FC personnel are fighting along the army, they also qualify for the allowance.
(Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2010)