Senate of Pakistan
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Minutes of the Meeting

August 26, 2014

An in camera meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence was held on 26th August, 2014 at 11.00 pm in Committee Room

 

1. Parliament House, Islamabad under the Chairmanship of Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed.

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

 

        i.    Detailed briefing on the Defence Budget 2014-15.

        ii.    Any other item with permission of the Chair.        

         

3. The following members of the Committee attended the meeting:-

  1. Senator Raja Muhammad Zafar-ul-Haq
  2. Senator Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain
  3. Senator Farhatullah Babar
  4. Senator Mrs. Sehar Kamran
  5. Senator Col. (R) Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi
  6. Senator Haji Muhammad Adeel
  7. Senator Malik Muhammad Rafique Rajwana
  8. Senator Abdul Rauf
  9. Senator Dr. Abdul Qayoom Soomro

 

4. The meeting started with the recitation from the Holy Quran. Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Chairman Committee in his opening remarks welcomed Lt. Gen. ® Alam Khattak to the Committee meeting and praised his professionalism and impeccable track record. He lauded the operation launched by the Pakistan Army in North Waziristan and was hopeful that the objectives of the operation would be achieved in shortest possible time frame. Chairman Committee further underscored the significant role played by the Defence Committee in formulating policy options on defence related issues and bridging the gap between the “Khaki and Mufti”. He reiterated that the members of the Committee have always presented their point of view above the party lines and in national interest. He than asked the Secretary Defence to brief the Committee on the Defence budget.

 

5. Lt. Gen. ® Alam Khattak, Secretary Defence while acknowledging the praising remarks of the Chairman Committee gave a detail presentation on the Defence budget 2014-2015. He elaborated in detail various components of the budget disbursed among the three services as per their demand and volume. He informed the Committee that major heads of the budget include (i) Employees related (ii) operating expenses (iii) physical assets (iv) civil works. He further stated that marginal increase in defence budget 2014-2015 as compared to budget 2013-2014 was due to fact that Pakistan has been facing gruesome internal security challenges in the wake of terrorism and insurgency. He explained that traditionally, Pakistan army has remained border oriented but after entering into war on terror, it has been subjected to unconventional warfare.  It is now time that armed forces should be more trained, equipped and regrouped to successfully uproot the menace of growing terrorism.  He further explained that Pakistan military’s expenses are lowest in the region given the existing the volatile security environment.

 

6. Senator Ch. Shujaat Hussain appreciated the efforts and resources put in by the Army in operation Zarb-e-Azab and assured support of the entire nation in general and political entities in particular. He further stated that the priorities indicated in the budget are well defined and clearly spelled out, however, advocated more focus on the welfare of the junior ranks.  

 

7. Senator Farhatullah Babar proposed that defence budget should preferably be discussed in the Committee meeting prior to its approval by the Parliament. He further questioned the vast network of industrial, commercial and business enterprises being run by Defence forces through out the country without any cogent public and parliamentary scrutiny. He stressed the need to look into the state subsidies and other support provided to these entities, e.g. Fauji Foundation, Army Welfare Trust, and Frontier Works Organization etc. and recommended that the matter may be discussed and deliberated upon during the next meeting of the Committee.

 

8. Senator Raja Muhammad Zafar-ul-Haq extended gratitude to the newly appointed Secretary Defence on a comprehensive and detailed briefing. He remarked that Army has been successful in gradually restoring the confidence of a common man particularly in the current security paradigm. He informed the Committee that the government has provided all requisite resources to Defence forces for undertaking operation Zarb-e-Azab with the unequivocal support of the general public. He asked the Ministry to furnish details regarding mechanism and disbursement of Coalition Support Fund (CSF).

 

9. Secretary Defence responded that majority of the US assistance to Pakistan comes from the Coalition Support Fund which is reimbursement to Pakistan for expenses already incurred on various counter insurgency operations and compensation for the facilities made available to the coalition forces. He further clarified that expenditure incurred on any military operation is reflected in the budget under the relevant head and Ministry of Finance is responsible to negotiate the terms and conditions of CSF with the donors.

 

10. Senator Sehar Kamran acknowledged the role of Pakistan Defence forces in tackling the external as well as internal threats on all fronts. She was of a view that increase in our Defence budget is justified owing to corresponding substantial increase by our adversary. She called upon the government to ensure that the demand of the defence forces should be met at all cost and recommended proportionate increase in spending on the physical assets.  She endorsed the views of Senator Chaudhry Shujat Hussain regarding diversion of more resources towards the welfare of lower ranks.

 

11. Senator Abdul Rauf remarked that there is a need to enhance the effectiveness of defence forces by allocating budget in line with their demand and requirement.  He observed with concern the disparity that exists between India and Pakistan in terms of defence spending.

 

12. Senator Col. (R) Syed Tahir Hussain Mashhadi stated that Pakistan defence forces are fighting on all fronts with great vigour, zeal and resilience.  He assured complete support to the defence forces in carrying out military operations against the terrorists and nefarious groups. He further highlighted the fact that our forces have registered the highest ratio of officer’s martyrdom and praised the worthiness of our brave officers who have always set personal examples by leading from the front.

 

13. Senator Malik Muhammad Rafique Rajwana remarked that the entire nation stands behind the operation Zarb-e-Azab over and above the political affiliations and personal interest. He further stated that Pakistan defence forces have scarified hundreds of lives during the recent operations and deserve due recognition.

 

14. Senator Dr. Abdul Qayoom Soomro appreciated the way in which the military operation is being conducted in North Waziristan.  He expressed his concerns over the recent clashes on Pakistan – India border and escalating tension between both the countries. He suggested that necessary steps should be taken by the government to defuse the tensions through political engagement and dialogue. 

 

15. Senator Haji Mohammad Adeel stated that his party had fully supported the military operation in Swat as well as in North Waziristan, however, he was of a view that early launching of operation Zarb-e-Azab could have yielded better results.  He further suggested that Ministry should take practical steps in improving the functioning of Military lands and cantonment boards on account of their unsatisfactory performance.

 

16. Senator Mushahid Hussain in his concluding remarks stated that the Committee members have convincingly pleaded the case of Pakistan defence forces at all the major national and international fora. He reiterated the resolve and commitment of the Committee in providing policy guidelines to the Ministry where required.  He further stressed the need to strengthen and improve the civil-military relations with a view to ensure meaningful counter terrorism operation aiming at bringing peace and stability in the country. 

 

17. The meeting ended with vote of thanks to the chair.

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