Senate of Pakistan

Minutes of the Meeting

March 4, 2013


A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production was held on 4th March, 2013 at 11:00 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 attended the meeting:-

1) Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed Chairman

2) Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Leader of Opposition Member

3) Senator Farhatullah Babar Member

4) Senator Col. (R) Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi Member

5) Senator Raja Muhammad Zafar-ul-Haq Member

6) Senator Haji Mohammad Adeel Khan Member  

7) Senator Sehar Kamran Member

2. The agenda before the Committee was as under:-


(i) Briefing on the functioning of and issues in Defence Housing Authorities in the country.


(ii) Update / correct position on the issue of building rights by Cantonment Board Rawalpindi to owners of plots near old jail.

(iii) Update on the issue of AFV Ranges Nowshehra in the light of Court decision/earlier deliberations.

(iv) Alleged misbehavior of Military check post personnel with the Senators and elected representatives who are not given due respect and subjected to unwarranted security checks in the cantonment areas especially Peshawar and Malir Cantt.


(v) Details/Documents regarding action taken against responsible persons by PIA for irregularities pointed out in the Audit Report and the alleged favoritism/maladministration in PIA (in light of assurance of MOS for Defence in reply  to a Question in Senate on            22-01-2013)

(vi) The poor performance and functioning of Pakistan International Airlines, the delay in flights, the frequent engine breakdowns and unsatisfactory dealing with the passengers.

(vii) Update regarding acquisition of new aircrafts for PIA fleet.


(viii) Report to the Committee on steps taken for Restructuring of the ASF, as per assurance at the time of approval of Airports Security Force (amendment) Bill 2012.

(ix) Any other item with permission of the Chair.

3. Taking up the agenda item No. 1, the meeting started with brief statements by the Administrators of each of DHAs regarding legality, structure and functioning of the Defence Housing Authorities. Brig. Muhammad Abdullah Administrator DHA Karachi informed that Pakistan Defence Officers Cooperative Housing Society was registered in 1953 under the Society Act and was managed by a Managing Director, Executive Committee of the Club and the Education Foundation. In August, 1980, the Cooperative Housing Society was dissolved and Pakistan Defence Officers Housing Authority was created through the Presidential Order No.7 of 1980. Later on this Presidential Order was made part of the Constitution through a Constitutional Amendment. By the same Presidential Order, Karachi Cantonment Board was bifurcated into two, i.e., Karachi and Clifton Cantonment Board. Under Presidential Order No.7 of 1980, DHA Karachi has a Governing Body, whose Chairman is Secretary Defence. Its members include a three star officer from each Service. Present members are Adjutant General from Pakistan Army, an Air Marshal from Air Force, Rear Admiral from Pakistan Navy besides Co-opted members and the Administrator.

4. Brig. Haroon Malik Administrator DHA Lahore informed that the Civil and Defence Housing Society, Lahore was raised initially in 1973. The General Headquarters then directed the Lahore Corps Commander to take over the society. After the take over it was renamed as Lahore Cantt Cooperative Housing Society and was registered with the Government of the Punjab in March, 1975. The business of the Society was conducted through a Managing Committee. However, the Lahore High Court then suspended the Managing Committee and entrusted all its powers to the Lahore Corps Commander. The Society was subsequently converted to DHA, Lahore in September, 1999 through a Provincial Ordinance. In September, 2002 DHA was federalized under the orders of the Chief Executive and it was validated by the Parliament in 2004. DHA Lahore have similar three tiers of management which are, the Governing Body, the Executive Board and the Administrator. Secretary Defence is ex-officio Chairman of the Governing Body. The other members are the Lahore Corps Commander, the Administrator himself and two co-opted civilian members which at present are Mr. Ahmed Bilal Sufi, a lawyer and Brig. (R) Tausif-uz-Zaman, from the Corps of Engineers.

5. Brig. Saadullah Fatmi, Administrator DHA Rawalpindi and Islamabad, informed that DHA Islamabad was conceived as Army Welfare Housing Society back in 1988 and it was a subsidiary of AWT (Army Welfare Trust). It was made an Authority through Presidential Order of February, 2005. Through 17th Amendment legal cover was given but then through 18th Amendment that cover was taken off and since then bills were tabled in the National Assembly. In September, 2011, DHA Bill, 2007 was resisted by Opposition and after discussion it was decided that there should be two DHAs – one for Islamabad and other for Rawalpindi. A Bill with the name of DHA Rawalpindi was tabled in Punjab Assembly on 7th January, 2013 passed on the same day on14th January, 2013 a gazette notification for DHA Rawalpindi was issued. In National Assembly old Bill DHA 2007 was withdrawn and a new Bill with the name DHA Bill, 2013 was tabled. After going through the Standing Committee it was placed in Assembly on 25th February, it was unanimously passed by the National Assembly and now it has been tabled in the Senate for approval and shall come on the agenda in the next couple of days. Governing Body of DHA Islamabad and Rawalpindi Board is headed by Secretary Defence and as a member Adjutant General, Pakistan Army, DG (W&R), Chairman CDA and  Commissioners Islamabad in case of Islamabad and DG RDA and Commissioner Rawalpindi in case of Rawalpindi, Executive Board, is headed by AG, DG(W&R),Administrator / Secretary, two co-opted members to be appointed by Federal Government and the Provincial Government.

6. The Chairman of the Committee thanked the Administrators of DHA for their briefing and said that it was for the first time that all DHAs had appeared before the Senate Committee and explained the legal status and other important aspects. He asked for the Members of the Committee for their comments.

7. Senator Farhatullah Babar was also appreciative of the fact that the DHAs have appeared and presented their view point about the legal evolution as well as functions and organization. He however said that the evolution had been marred by a number of controversial steps and in most of the cases legal cover has been provided through the dictatorship regimes during or around the Martial Law periods. He said that most prominent cover up was inclusion of the Presidential Ordinance through which societies were converted into authorities in schedule 7 of the Constitution thereby giving them protection from any normal Parliamentary review. He said that the cover given under 17th Amendment got nullified due to Supreme Court Orders and that’s why Bill had to be laid in the Parliament for DHA Islamabad. He said that the civilian representation in the organizational structure and decision making was totally missing and the two civilian members in DHA Lahore and Karachi had no voting rights.

8. The Leader of the Opposition Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar said that the Bill as originally introduced in the National Assembly had similar provisions and many other aspects to which the opposition strongly objected. He said that the government of Punjab had also taken a stand and as a result separate Rawalpindi Defence Housing Authority was created for the areas under Punjab. He said that it was after tough stand of the opposition that changes were made in the Bill and not only the civilian officers were including the Chairman CDA and Chairman RDA and Commissioners were included in Board but made voting members having equal rights.

9. On the issue of appointment of DHA Administrators, Senator Farhatullah Babar and other Members were of the view that instead of Chief of Army Staff, Ministry of Defence / Secretary Defence should be the appointing authority. He said that the employees of the authorities were declared civil servants despite being employees of autonomous independent bodies which required review. He said that now that Parliamentary review of the DHAs has started and Bills have been passed by National Parliament and Provincial Assembly of Punjab, efforts should be made to create a civilian and Military balance in the Authorities as well as ensure control of Government over the Authorities.

10. Senator Col. ® Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi highly appreciated the achievements and performance of Defence Housing Authorities but he raised questions about recent agreements of the authority with some private land developers who did not enjoy great reputation. He wanted to know whether the DHA was not competent enough to undertake projects on its own and why a risk was being taken that could damage great past performance and reputation. He also wanted to know whether the interest of Jawans and Shaheeds was still being protected especially in the DHAs especially in case of societies taken over from Army Welfare Trust.

11. The Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Defence Air Vice Marshall Arshad Quddus said that the questions raised by Senator Farhatullah Babar as well as Senator Col ® Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi required some time and deliberations before being fully answered. On his proposal it was agreed that the questions of the two Senators as well as other Members will be answered in detail in next Committee meeting to be held in April.

12. The Leader of the Opposition Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar floated another idea / issue regarding a complete ban on use of discretionary powers in any allotments or quotas. He said that as Minister for Commerce he had abolished all quotas in Textile sector and a Bill has been tabled in the National Assembly for abolition of quotas in all fields including plots. He asked about the opinion of Ministry of Defence  regarding abolishing discretionary allotment of plots in DHAs. This question was also included in the list to be answered during the next briefing. Senator Raja Mohammad Zafar-ul-Haq suggested that the Ministry / DHAs should hold an in house session to asses and foresee all related and relevant questions and come up with a comprehensive briefing covering all aspects including the controversial issues and questions.

13. Taking up the second agenda item, the Chairman of the Committee asked the representative of Military Land and Cantonments to update on the issues of right to owners of plots in Block C of the former central jail area in Rawalpindi. The Director Military Land and Cantonment Rawalpindi Shaikh Shahid Bashir said that the Ministry was in best position to clarify the situation.

14. Senator Farhatullah Babar said that in his opinion Military Lands and Cantonment was in best position to give an update. He said that again an attempt was being made to by pass the actual issue and although it was accepted in the previous briefing on the issue that factual position was not placed before the Committee especially regarding the High Court decision, again information was being withheld and mispresented. He said that the actual issue was that the legal owners of the plots were not being allowed to construct houses despite clear orders of the High Court which had infact asked the local police to provide protection and support to the owners but in view of the realities of the land the owners were being denied right and no support was available from any quarter. He said that much more worrisome was a later in the Brief by Quarter Master General proposing that the land be acquired under land acquisition Act.

15. The Leader of the Opposition Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar and other Members wanted to know the justifications or grounds on basis of which land acquisition was being proposed as simple mentioning of security or national interest was not enough and there was a clear cut criteria for acquiring land under Section 4 of the Act.

16. Senator Sehar Kamran said that although in this particular case more details may be required to reach a conclusion but she had all along been proposing that there should be buffer zones around the important defence installations and high command residences. She said that there was no other way to safeguard and protect and events in the past have proved that. She said that ownership rights of a few individuals are important and they should be properly compensated but national security was of paramount importance.

17. The Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Defence acknowledged that in the previous briefing there was a misunderstanding and the then Secretary Defence excused for wrong information. He however said that there had been more than one Court decisions in the matter and infact the matter was still in Court and not reached finality. He said that the Ministry was pleading in the Court that a different Order of the Court on an earlier decision had let to misunderstanding and we were seeking clarity in the matter. He however said that the proposal to acquire the land was from a subordinate office and it was yet to be processed. He assured the Committee with full authority that a decision in the matter was yet to be reached and if at all acquisition of land is decided detailed justifications and grounds will be shared with the Committee.

18. Senator Farhatullah Babar and Senator Col. ® Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi were skeptical and apprehensive that QMG or GHQ were subordinate offices and they thought that the land will be acquired. However the Committee was reassured that the Ministry / Secretary will examine the case on merit and the details of final decision will be shared with the Committee.  

19. The Chairman of the Committee Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that since the Ministry was saying on record with full authority and responsibility their intent to settle the matter in a just and fair manner the Committee would take them at their word till proven otherwise. He said that in the present day Pakistan all institutions needed to have transparency and responsiveness as cover up was not an option. He urged upon the Military Land and Cantonment Department to be more efficient and responsive to the Committee. He said that the Committee has assumed the big task of bridging gap between Khaki and Mufti and would act as first line of defence but at the same time it will perform the role of oversight of Security Establishment and its controlled organizations, as and when required.  

20. The Chairman Committee asked for briefing on the next item of the agenda which was regarding compensation to the land owners of AFV Ranges Nowshehra in the light of Court decision. The representative of the Military Land and Cantonment said that the decision of enhancement of amount of award from Rs. 589 to Rs. 1500 per Marla has been challenged and four appeals are pending in the Supreme Court therefore the matter is subjudice.

21. Senator Farhatullah Babar wanted to know the exact dates of appeals and status, challenging the view point of the Director MLC that the matter was subjudice. He said that they needed to revisit their position and statement because it was factually incorrect. He said that although appeal was filed but  it was time barred and Supreme Court had neither granted stay nor even admitted the appeals so it was totally wrong to say that matter was subjudice. He read out from the latest (December, 6, 2012) decision of the Peshawar High Court which said “In the meanwhile the appellant shall start payment of principle amount to affectees while the status quo order shall be operative to the extent of 6% interest”. He said that the only stay was on the interest with the clear cut direction by the Court that payment of principle amount should be started. He said that if the stand and position of ML&C was juxtaposed with the earlier agenda item a clear cut pattern can be established showing total disregard for the law and the Court orders and mispresenting facts.

22. The Leader of the Opposition Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar also expressed his shock and said that such a long delay in payment of amount of Award to the affectees was not understandable. He said that either the required amount was not allocated and transferred timely or there was some other blunder as no one can think of such a long delay in compensating the people. The representative of the ML&C said that the principle amount of Rs. 304.881 million has been transferred and was available but the issue was of increased rate of Award and interest for which funds were not available.

23. The Committee directed that the ML&C as well as Ministry of Defence should get a copy of the recent Peshawar High Court decision and if the decision has taken finality leaving no other legal course for review, they should initiate the process for allocation and release of additional funds required to be paid as per Court decision. The Chairman of the Committee, Leader of the Opposition and other Members urged upon the Ministry and the ML&C to keep in mind that human beings and citizens were involved who had legitimate right being denied for a long time. They said that while the case should be moved immediately for allocation of funds by the government, possibilities of compensation through some other internal adjustments / re-appropriation should also be examined.

24. The Chairman of the Committee asked Senator Col. ® Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi to speak on the next agenda item which was regarding misbehavior by the Military Checkpost Personnel with the Senators and elected representatives. Senator Mashhadi gave a detailed account of various incidents meted out to the elected representatives including past Defence Committee of the Senate where no respect was shown to the Members / Committee even on the eve of official visit to Wah and other Cantonment areas. He gave details of continuous disrespect and disregard by the junior officials posted in Malir Cantt to him and his family despite several time taking up the issue at the highest level. He said that each time the Secretary Defence had assured of passing instructions but either no instructions were passed or these were totally flouted as attitude and behavior of officials had further deteriorated subjecting the accompanying female members of the family to disrespect. He said that while some instructions were there to allow entry from gate No. 1 this gate was closed at 11pm. He said that the gate which was close to his residence was gate No. 5, therefore clear cut instructions and a proper identity card or sticker was required which should enable him to use gate No. 5 at any time.

25. The Additional Secretary Ministry of Defence promised to take up the matter with the Secretary Defence and pass instructions for permanent solution of the problem. These instructions would ensure entry to the Senator subject to essentially required security check from gate No. 5.

26. Senator Haji Mohammad Adeel raised the issue of maltreatment with the civilian residents in Peshawar and other Cantonments and similar difficulties in entry of guests including media persons. He said that despite all the hue and cry about security of residents, a number of incidents had taken place where most secure offices have been attacked by the terrorists without any checking or resistance at the entry point. He said that the issue was not only of checking at the entry but even the developmental projects for which huge funds were got allocated through his personal efforts were not allowed to be completed. He said that he had got funds allocated for a freedom fighters memorial in the cantonment area but the local commander did not agree with the proposal. He said that there was need to study the 1924 Act  and understand which uses were allowed and which were not allowed in the lands in cantonment area. He said that while commercial activities, cinemas and petrol pumps were allowed in these areas development projects of the MPs were not allowed.

27. The Chairman of the Committee Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed said that since the DG ML&C was abroad and was not present in the meeting, the Committee would take up the whole issue of cantonment areas management in a next meeting and undertake a comprehensive review in the light of the Act.

28. The Committee then took up the agenda item regarding the restructuring of the Airports Security Force as the Ministry of Defence had given an assurance at the time of approval of ASF Bill for re-designation in November, 2012 that the restructuring of the ASF will be planned within three months time and submitted to the Committee. The Director General of Airports Security Force gave a detailed presentation to the Committee for the restructuring and upgradation of various posts.

29. The Committee unanimously approved the restructuring plan of the Airports Security Force and recommended up-gradation of various posts as well as creation of Regional Command in view of manifold increase in the number of personnel and airports as well as the security threat. The Committee asked the Ministry of Defence to take immediate further action for approval of new posts and budget by the Establishment and Finance Division.

30. There was some debate about the heading of the Committee by a serving Army officer. The Committee kept further discussion on this issue pending and advised the ASF and Ministry of Defence to focus on the restructuring and reorganization to undo the injustice to especially lower level officials (Sergeants) who had no or very limited chance of promotion. The Committee urged to find a way out to promote the low ranking officials whose time scale / selection grade was discontinued. The Committee urged upon the Ministry to move swiftly for necessary administrative approvals from Establishment Division including lifting of ban and financial allocation from the Finance Division.

31. The Committee then took the agenda items relating to PIA. The details regarding action taken against responsible persons by PIA for irregularities pointed out in the Audit Reports were presented to the Committee. These details were required in the light of a question / matter referred by the House to the Committee in Session on 22.1.2013. The Committee decided to pass on the information provided by the PIA to the House.  

32. The Chairman of the Committee welcomed the new Managing Director Capt. M. Junaid Younus and asked for the measures taken to improve the performance and functioning of PIA. The Managing Director gave a detailed account of the causes of losses to PIA which were result of some wrong decisions and practices as well as inability of the Corporation to adjust to the new realities. He said that a merit based system and rationale decision making has been introduced under the new management and leadership and no political interference was being made. This, he said, has resulted in giving the space to the administration for improving the working and functioning. He said that competitive recruitment, mandatory training requirement, internal as well as external accountability, including MOU with Transparency International, were major decisions. He said that a number of decisions were made on the operational side to cut on the fuel cost which was major cost contrary to the notion of employees’ cost. He said that through use of appropriate aircraft for smaller and longer routes the percentage of fuel cost to the total cost has been brought down from 60 – 70 to 55% which was still higher than some other efficient airlines and efforts were underway to bring it further down.

33. The MD, PIA shared some other plans to increase efficiency which included lease of narrow body aircrafts instead of purchase. The Committee members asked about some of the decisions made in the past regarding purchase of big aircrafts. The MD said that this decision had been made in the past but now the policy was to get aircrafts on lease and go for narrow body aircrafts. He said that even the aircrafts which were purchased would be used optimally as a mix and match was required for short and long routs.

34. The MD also informed about some improvement in timings of flights but said that for PIA safety was very important and just for the sake of flying in time no compromise was made on safety and maintenance of aircraft. He said that some of the accidents of private airlines aircrafts had underscored the need for full satisfaction regarding safety and security. In reply to a question he said that European and North American standards were being maintained and the objections that were previously raised by European Civil Aviation Authorities had been removed.

35. Senator Sehar Kamran pointed out some serious difficulties in the days and times of flights between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia as well as very low standards of hygiene and service in these routes. She said that there was need to have atleast a few business class seats and improve significantly on the hygiene and service. The Managing Director PIA noted down all the points including scheduling, improving on hygiene and service as well as possibility of some club class seats and assured of necessary action. He also shared the details of new routes being considered by PIA especially on the eastern routes where there was huge demand and potential. He said that due to visa restrictions routes to some certain Asian States were discontinued but promised to reexamine the possibility keeping in view the visa and other considerations.

36. The Committee Members asked various questions about flights on various sectors including Peshawar and Quetta. They asked about the fitness of ATR aircrafts as well as non functioning of Parliamentarians counter. The MD promised to take necessary action and provide necessary information by next meeting including the information regarding per seat employees cost. He also assured to look into the matter of separating engineering wing from the employees list to reduce cost. However the Senators asked the MD to take decisions keeping in view the operational requirements as they did not want interference in micro management as their main concern was to convey the difficulties and problems of the citizens as well as to reduce burden on the national exchequer. Senator Col. ® Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi asked the MD to look into the matter of bogus booking as well as the possibility of opening a route to Baghdad and Najaf which was in high demand for the pilgrims. The Managing Director promised to looked into both of these. The Chairman of the Committee said that he was a frequent flyer of PIA and was extremely happy with frequent flyer policy which was based on merit and was functioning very efficiently.

37. The Chairman Committee, in his concluding remarks, said that the meeting which lasted for more than 4 hours was open to media and through discussion has taken place on some of the very controversial issues but in line with the declared policy of the Committee to build better understanding between civil and military, the meeting was conducted in sober, respectful manner, helping in addressing some serious issues amicably.  

38. The meeting ended with the vote of thanks to and for the Chair.


(Amjed Pervez)                                                                                        (Mushahid Hussain Sayed)
Special Secretary /                                                                                    Chairman Committee
Secretary Committee

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