Senate Defence Committee condemns Indian violations of LoC & WB

Mian Arshad

Tuesday, July 28, 2015 – islamabad—The Senate Defence Committee, Monday, passed a unanimous resolution, , strongly condemning the India shelling across the Line of Control (LoC) and the working boundary and indiscriminate killing of civilians living along the LOC. The resolution moved by PPP Senator Sehar Kamran urged the Government to raise this issue with the UN and other international forums

Committee met here with Chairman Mushahid Husssain Syed in the chair and approved legislation that had been presented before the Committee pertaining to the Pakistan Army Amendment Ordinance 2015 and the Cantonment Amendment Ordinance 2015. Committee also received a detailed and comprehensive briefing regarding defence budget in the presence of Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif, Secretary Defence, Lt. Gen. (R) Alam Khattak and senior officials of the Ministry of Defence.The briefing, which was held in-camera, included a comprehensive review in detail about different aspects of the defence budget and its utilization by the 3 services as well as affiliated organisations under the Ministry of Defence. The Defence Committee members expressed satisfaction about the role of the Ministry of Defence and agreed with the recommendations presented by the Ministry of Defence which included modernization plans for the Armed Forces, continued support for operation Zarb-e-Azb as well as waiving of sales tax and custom duty on defence procurement items. The Defence Committee was told that so far since 2001 till 2015, the United States had provided reimbursement to the Government of Pakistan of $ 13 billion in the form of Coalition Support Fund (CSF).

The Committee was also told that Pakistan had suffered over 100 billion dollars in various forms in difference sectors since 9/11. The Committee was told that the defence budget of $ 7.7 billion was comprised only 17% of the national budget of $ 43 billion. Referring to transparency issues on the defence budget, the Committee was briefed that as a result of some 900 audit paras in the past years, the Ministry of Defence had been able to recover Rs.1.5 billion and there was strict internal oversight through the Departmental Audit Committee.

Responding to a petition that the Senate Defence Committee had received regarding the Shuhada Package for the families of the Army Public School martyrs, the Ministry of Defence had moved a summary which is now been approved by the Ministry of Finance to provide compensation packages on an equal basis to all martyrs without any distinct as to whether they were government servants or contract employees and for the future, in terms of compensation package, they would be treated at par. The Committee thanked the Ministry of Defence for promptly and positively responding to this proposal of the Senate Defence Committee.

Given an overview of Pakistan-Russia military relations based on his 2 visits to Moscow in the last 2 years, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif referred to a qualitative change in the content of the Pakistan-Russia military relationship particularly in the defence sector which now include defence cooperation, projects of defence equipment, an offer of military training of Pakistan officers in Russia, provision of equipment to counter terrorism as well as anti-narcotics smuggling plus, for the first time, Pakistan Russia Joint Naval exercises in St. Petersburg in 2015. Khawaja Asif appreciated the Senate Defence Committee under the leadership of its Chairman, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed for its proactive role as well as serving to promote civil-military harmony.