Senate of Pakistan

Minutes of Meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production

June13, 2012

An In-House meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production was held on 13th June, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. in Committee Room No. 1, at the Parliament House, Islamabad. The Meeting was presided over by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman SSC on Defence and Defence Production. Following Members and Officer attended the meeting:-

1)    Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed    Chairman
2)    Senator Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain    Member
3)    Senator Raja Muhammad Zafar-ul-Haq    Member
4)    Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar    Member
5)    Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel     Member
6)    Senator Col. ® Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi    Member
7)    Senator Sehar Kamran    Member
8)    Mr. Amjed Pervez, Special Secretary     Secretary Committee

2.    The meeting started with recitation from Holy Quran by Senator Sehar Kamran.

3.    Setting a new tradition, the first meeting of the Committee after election of Chairman, was convened by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed to chalk out the work plan for the year. Following was the proposed work plan, as mentioned in the meeting Agenda:-

1)        PROPOSED WORK PLAN FOR 2012:
The Work Plan will be divided into 2 parts:

i)    Briefing by the 3 services (Army, Air Force & Navy) under auspices of Ministry of Defence;

ii)    Briefing on the nuclear programme by the Strategic Plans Division (SPD);

iii)    Briefing on internal/external threats to national defence by the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate;

iv)    Briefing on Defence Production facilities and their role/potential to strengthen national economy.

    Public hearing with presentation by experts, scholars & retired military professionals on Defence Policy of Pakistan: what changes are needed in light of new realities particularly nature and source of military and non-military threats like cyber warfare and climate change, plus better inter-service coordination. One key focus should be how to redefine the concept of National Defence, viewing it in not just military terms but include civilian components in today's world like economy, education, energy, environment, Parliament, rule of law, political parties and provincial autonomy.

(By the end of 2012, the Defence & Defence Production Committee should be in a position to produce a document on Defence Policy and Security Strategy for Pakistan, with proposals and recommendations on what changes are needed given the emerging
scenario in the country and the region).

    Seeking a balance between Khaki and Mufti in an institutional manner, upholding the principle of supremacy of the Constitution. In this regard, a Working Paper for background reading has already been circulated. This Paper has been written by the Chairman, and includes a comprehensive, specially prepared Fact Sheet on Civil-Military Relations from 1947 to the present. Based on testimony of experts, examples of other democratic countries like Turkey and Indonesia and the track record in Pakistan, the Defence Committee would study the issue and then prepare some concrete policy proposals as part of its Defence Policy and Strategy Document.

    Suggestions, ideas and proposals for the website of the Committee.

    Two research interns for the Committee, who will be available to all Committee Members for their research & talking points on defence-related issues.

4.    Elaborating the proposed work plan for the year, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman of the Committee, said that to better acquaint the Committee Members with the working and functioning of the two Ministries i.e. Defence and Defence Production, a series of briefings will be held wherein the 3 Services, Strategic Plans Division, Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate and the Defence Production Organizations, will give briefings. The focus in the briefings by the respective Departments would be to understand the internal and external threats to the national defence, the status of the nuclear program and to asses the role and potential of defence production facilities in strengthening defence as well as national economy.

5.    Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that instead of limiting itself to the briefings by the Ministries and Organizations under their control, an initiative will be taken to broaden the scope, method of work and sources of input to the Committee by holding Public Hearings by Experts, Scholars and retired Military Professionals on Defence Policy of Pakistan. He expressed the hope that by the end of 2012, the Committee would be in a position to produce a document on Defence Policy and Security Strategy for Pakistan which would be a policy document addressing all concerns and threats to the national defence; Military and Non-Military. Elaborating the Non-Military threats, he mentioned Cyber Warfare, anti-Pakistan Propaganda, Sectarian Terrorism and Climate Change. He further said, that National Defence needed to be redefined to include other than Military components such as Economy, Energy, Environment, Parliament, Rule of Law, Political Parties and Provincial Autonomy. The Chairman of the Committee, referring to the Civil-Military Relations mentioned in the Work Plan, informed the Committee that he has done primary and original research work on the subject and a document prepared by him has been circulated among the Committee Members. The thrust of this effort was to create a balance and harmony between ‘Khaki’ and ‘Mufti’ in an institutional manner. Briefly touching the other two items in the work plan, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that he has already started working on the Committee Website with new design, domain name and contents which will be highly interactive and a source of information as well as outreach and access. CVs of the two interns hired for the Committee were circulated among the Members, who will be available for all the required support to the Committee Members. Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed also took the Committee on board on the regarding scheduled visit to Chakwal, proposed visit to Siachen and plan of laying wreaths on the graves of Holders of Nishan-e-Haider by individual Members in their respective areas on September 6 every year.

6.    Raja Muhammad Zafar-ul-Haq, who had remained a Member of the Committee in the past, said that while symbolism such as laying wreath on the graves of Shaheeds was good, it was high time that the Committee also started focusing on substantive work as serious challenges and threats existed and some more work likely to emerge in the aftermath of US / NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan. Describing the existing serious challenges, Senator Raja Muhammad Zafar-ul-Haq mentioned huge destruction of lives and properties not only in border areas but Balochistan and other Provinces of the Country. He also mentioned about the reports of Indian role in the unrest and insurgency in the Province of Balochistan. The Senator said that while there were concerns being expressed about converting Pakistan into a Security State instead of a Welfare State, an even more issue of concern was the fact that within that ‘Security State’ alarming incidents of Security breach in the highly secured areas such as GHQ, Mehran Base in Karachi, had happened without there being much investigation. The highest security breach in the shape of unilateral Commando Action in Abbotabad also remained unexplained and unaccounted for. He further mentioned the disconnect between elected and civilian leadership and the Defence Security Organizations as the people and their representatives were unaware of the existence of any Higher Strategic Planning.

7.    The Chairman of the Committee, agreeing to the concerns expressed by Senator Raja Muhammad Zafar-ul-Haq, said that symbolism and substance should go side by side as both were requirement and need of the time. He said that, it was to address similar concerns and to overcome the disconnect mentioned by the Member, that the work plan included Civil-Military Relations and redefining the concept of National Security and Defence. To remove the disconnect, meaningful debate and solutions were also included in the work plan under Civil-Military Relations.

8.    Senator Sehar Kamran taking part in the discussion strongly advocated the need for and importance of  showing solidarity with the Officers and Jawans who were rendering highest service and sacrifice for the defence of Pakistan on Boarders as well as within the Country. She said that her initiative and proposal to visit the bereaved families of the Shaheeds of the Gayari Sector, was a badly needed gesture of solidarity by the peoples representatives. She appreciated the proposed initiative of the Chairman of the Committee for 6 September. Senator Sehar Kamran was of the view that a barrage of negative propaganda was going on against the Defence Forces and Security Agencies of Pakistan in which individuals and organizations from abroad and within were taking part. While such propaganda from enemies was expected, the Pakistani individuals and organizations who were further fueling the propaganda did not bother to verify the basic facts. She said that in these difficult times, instead of one message to the world, we were sending different and at times extremely opposite messages. This, she said, was success of the new strategy of “Divide and Distract”, launched by the super and regional powers in which our newly independent media was being used as a tool, knowingly or unknowingly .

9.    Senator Sehar Kamran said that an integrated defence and foreign policy of the country should be evolved through consensus by all parties in the Parliament but it was equally important to defend the policy and decisions of the Parliament outside. She was highly critical of the Politicians and other public office holders who divulged sensitive information not only in the media but had developed a habit of passing on information on national strategic matters to foreigners to seek small favors or just goodwill. She said that the focus of recent Parliamentary intervention in foreign and defence policy guidance had remained West oriented while in view of the regional, cultural and religious realities, we should have been focusing more in the Gulf Region / Arab World who were our natural allies. She said that relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia at the military level had always been very close and mutually beneficial but interaction in matters of defence and foreign policy on the civil side, especially on the Parliamentary side, was lacking. She underlined the importance of re-directing focus and attention of defence and foreign policy debates in Parliament and Committees from US / NATO to the region and most importantly our natural allies including China, Iran as well as Gulf / Arab Countries.

10.    Senator Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain shared his experience and observations as Member and Chairman of the Defence Committee in the past. He said that this Committee had always held useful deliberations but an analysis shows that lately it had been focusing more on micro issues such as PIA facilities while it should be focusing more on bigger issues and challenges facing the country. He hoped that under the leadership of Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, the Committee would be able to focus on major issues and after taking into confidence all stakeholders, it should come up with a recommendation paper which should then be made public.

11.    Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel reiterated his stand of giving due attention to the Ministry / subject of Defence Production. He said that it was ironic and tragic that despite having capacity and staff, the Defence Production Organizations were not contributing to save scarce resources of the country which they should have been doing through import substitution and export to potential markets in Third World countries. He said that instead of contributing to the national economy, these organizations were becoming a burden on the exchequer as salaries and other current expenditures were being incurred after huge capital investment. He shared with the Committee Members that PIA had been assigned a big role in Defence Production by the late Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto which has contributed greatly in production of some highly sophisticated missiles but lately this role assigned to PIA was further adding to the fragile financial position of PIA. He said that PIA had a number of its own problems, some of which had resulted due to presence of Unions in the shape of Mafia who were not allowing the Airline to benefit from generous and profitable offers by Turkish Airlines. Touching the subject of criticism on defence budget, he said that no one was against providing money from national exchequer for Arms ammunitions and other defence related needs of the Forces but huge expenses or wastage on ostentatious Military Messes, elaborate housing schemes and luxurious facilities needed to be checked.

12.    Senator Col ® Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi said that in his long association and participation in the Parliament and its Committees, he was glad to see for the first time that Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, after assuming the Chairmanship of the Defence Committee, has convened a special in-House meeting to chalk out a plan of action. He said that no one can deny that without setting clear cut goals and targets, achieving objectives was difficult. He said that initial briefings by the three services and agencies were essential and instead of entering into debate of going to their headquarters or asking them to come to Parliament House, the Committee should decide on case to case and need basis, keeping in view the pros and cons. Commenting on the view point of Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel regarding non-performance by the Defence Production Organizations, he said that there was need of funds for updating machinery and technology. Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel pointed out that for successful marketing abroad, funds and approvals had always been an issue besides the payment of “Commission” involved in any international Arms deal. Senator Sehar Kamran suggested that instead of relying on traditional marketing approaches, modern third party or other options should be explored as selling and buying of Arms were not only Pakistan specific issue and various solutions and models were available.

13.    On the issue of Civil-Military Relations, Senators Col. ® Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi and Sehar Kamran voiced common concern on Army bashing as a growing trend in which basic facts such as budgetary allocation for defence were being projected contrary to the facts and figures. It was clarified that the defence budget was neither 60% nor 30%, it was just 18% which any one can work out from the budget figures available but for some unknown reasons highly educated people in various segments of the society were behaving like illiterate followers of rumor mongers. They also pointed out to the budget of over 5.4 billion US$ of India which was increasing in alarming proportion.

14.    Senator Col. ® Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi said that PIA bashing was also equally popular but we should realize that the airline which has contributed greatly in precision engineering and helped developed laser guided missiles at a time when even US and others did not have it, was now facing serious difficulties both financial, management and decision making autonomy. He said that huge brain drain and obsolete technology were adding to the problems. Commenting on the work plan, Senator Col ® Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi said that Reports of the Parliamentary Committees were of great value and interest not only inside the country but abroad.

15.    Towards the end of deliberations, Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel proposed to bring on record  the  good  work done  by  the previous  Chairman  of  the Committee, Senator Lt. Gen. ® Javed Ashraf Qazi to which all Committee Members agreed. The new Chairman said that one of the first things he did on becoming Chairman was to meet his predecessor learn and benefit from his good work.

16.    The major decisions / actionables of the Committee were;
i.    Approval of the proposed work plan as given in para 3 of the Minutes and Agenda item 1 with some additions such as more focus on defence production facilities and helping them evolve better export strategies, attention to the issues of PIA (including its defence production difficulties) and Civil Aviation Authority.

ii.    Two interns were engaged for help to all Committee Members who will sit in Committee Chairperson Building but will remain available to Committee Members on demand / need basis.

iii.    The Chairman of the Committee will approve new web design and contents which will be operated through a team working with him. However, link of the Committee web will be established with Senate web site.

iv.    To facilitate logistics of the out-of-Islamabad experts to be invited by the Committee, possibility of financial support by the donors will be explored.

v.    Reports of the Committee as given in the work plan, as well as in line with the past tradition of Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, will be produced regularly and besides laying these in the House, these will be made public on web and in hard copies.

vi.    On the proposal of Senator Sehar Kamran, visit of the Committee to Saudi Arabia will be planned in due course.

vii.    The Committee Members will visit the families of the Shaheeds of Gayari Sector in Chakwal area on June 15 and undertake a visit to Siachen in July 2012. The Committee Members will visit the graves of holders of Nishan-e-Haider, individually or in sub-groups in their respective areas on September 6 every year.

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