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The richest army of the poorest nation

PAC denied information about Rs5.5bn paid to ISI
By Khawar Ghumman
Wednesday, 22 Sep, 2010

According to the finance officials the amount was paid to the ISI as a supplementary grant.—File Photo
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ISLAMABAD: Eyebrows were raised on Tuesday when finance officials informed the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the National Assembly about an unaccounted-for, one-time release of Rs5.55 billion to Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) during 2007-08 for its operations.

When pressed for details, Finance Secretary Salman Siddique opted to keep quiet. “This is highly sensitive information and hence I can’t talk about it at an open forum.”

According to information provided by the finance division to the PAC, the amount was paid to the ISI as a supplementary grant.

Despite repeated questions and light-hearted taunts by members of the committee, Mr Siddique refused to share any details.

Details provided to media-persons simply described the amount as “provision for relief during the financial year 2007-2008”. The only thing the secretary was willing to concede was that the head was a cover-up.

Khwaja Asif of the PML-N asked: “How long shall we keep on fooling ourselves?”

PPP’s Yasmin Rehman, who presided over the meeting, said: “How can we settle such a heavy amount without knowing any details?” If the information was not to be shared with the PAC there was no need to bring the matter to the notice of the members, she said.

Afzal Chan of the PPP said the funding for intelligence agencies was beyond anyone’s comprehension.

PAC Chairman Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan did not attend the meeting.In reply to a question, the finance secretary said strategic dictates had forced the government to make the payment. He also said that the money had been provided in lump sum.

PENSIONS: The issue of pensions of retired army personnel also came under discussion. The payment was shown as civilian expenditure under a government decision taken in 2001.

During the current financial year, the secretary said, the government would spend Rs72 billion on paying pension to former personnel of the armed forces and only Rs18 billion to retired civilian employees.

Khwaja Asif called the decision a joke and urged the government to immediately undo it because it was a legacy of a military dictator.

The PAC asked the secretary to review the decision and he said he would take up the matter with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at a meeting scheduled for Sept 27.

Mr Siddique also shocked the committee when he said that the government was paying Rs400 billion annually in the name of subsidies, although the amount, in reality, was used to cover the losses of federal government entities. The Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco) received the highest amount of Rs183 billion last year.

The members were also informed that the government was paying a domestic debt of Rs640 billion after re-borrowing money on higher interest rates.

The secretary said there were serious structural flaws which needed to be addressed to improve the economy.

He conceded that the international community had serious concerns over transparency in the use of flood relief and rehabilitation funds by the government. “We are taking every possible measure to address their concerns.”

When Riaz Pirzada of the PML-Q asked about the number of new organisations being set up for rehabilitation work in flood-affected areas, the official said that he only knew about the National Disaster Management Authority.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/front-page/rs72bn-army-pensions-shown-as-civilian-expenses-pac-denied-information-about-rs5.5bn-paid-to-isi-290

http://www.aajkal.com.pk/news.aspx?img=http://www.aajkal.com.pk/news/2010/10/8/editorial_n4.jpg&w=800&h=1541

Pak officials reluctant to disclose ISI’s expenditure
Press Trust Of India
Islamabad, September 22, 2010First Published: 15:29 IST(22/9/2010)
Last Updated: 15:31 IST(22/9/2010)

Top Pakistani officials are refusing to disclose how and on what the country’s powerful spy agency ISI spent a whopping Rs 5.55 billion allocated to it during 2007-08. “This is highly sensitive information and hence I can’t talk about it at an open forum,” Finance Secretary Salman Siddiqui told the

Public Accounts Committee of the National Assembly or lower house of parliament.
He merely told the Parliamentary watchdog that the money was released to the ISI for operations. But opted to keep quiet when asked for details, media reports said on Wednesday.

The huge sum was paid to the ISI as a supplementary grant. But the spy agency has so far not accounted for it.

The meetings of most Pakistani parliamentary panels are open to the media.

According to information provided by the finance division to the PAC, the amount was paid to the ISI as a supplementary grant.

Despite repeated questions and taunts by members of the PAC, Siddique refused to share details of the allocation.

Details provided to the media described the amount as “provision for relief during the financial year 2007-2008”.

The only thing Siddiqui was willing to concede was that the head was a “cover-up”.

Senior PML-N leader Khwaja Asif, a member of the PAC, asked: “How long shall we keep on fooling ourselves?”

Pakistan People’s Party’s Yasmin Rehman, who presided over the meeting, said: “How can we settle such a heavy amount without knowing any details?” If the information is not to be shared with the PAC, there is no need to bring the matter to the notice of the panel, she said.

Afzal Chan of the PPP said funding for intelligence agencies was beyond anyone’s comprehension.

Replying to a question, the Finance Secretary said “strategic dictates” had forced the government to make the payment. He said that the money was provided in lump sum.

The PAC also discussed the issue of pensions of retired army personnel, which have swelled from Rs 26 billion in 2001 to Rs 72 billion in 2010.

In contrast, the Pakistan government’s expense on pensions for civilian employees was only Rs 18 billion.

The military pension bill was separated from the defence budget in 2001 on the orders of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf to show a decline in military spending.

Khwaja Asif called the decision a joke and urged the government to immediately undo it because it was the legacy of a military dictator.

The PAC asked the Finance Secretary to review the decision and he said he would take up the matter with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani at a meeting on September 27.

Siddique also shocked the PAC when he said the government was paying Rs 400 billion annually in the name of subsidies, although the amount was used to cover losses of state-run entities like the Pakistan Electric Power Company.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Pak-officials-reluctant-to-disclose-ISI-s-expenditure/Article1-603314.aspx

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