Weekly Bang-e-sahar Saturday,April 5-11,2008
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Northern Areas has strongly criticized unnecessary delay in withdrawal of military officers posted in civilian organizations in the region despite clear-cut announcements made by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani and Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani in this regard. In their separate statements here, PPP Northern Areas President Syed Jafar Shah Advocate and member Legislative Assembly Mohammad Ali Akhtar warned that a protest movement would be launched if the directives of the prime minister and the COAS were not implemented in letter and spirit in Gilgit-Baltistan. After the February 18 general elections, powers have been transferred to the new PPP-led government. The PPP leadership has taken wise decision and ordered immediate withdrawal of military officers from all civilian organizations and the directive is being implemented in all parts of the country. But strangely some elements having their own vested interests are out to sabotage the government’s decision and are trying to stop or delay the return of military officers posted in civilian organizations in Gilgit-Baltistsn. This has created suspicions among the people who have been expecting that the new government would take stringent measures to empower the local people to run their day-to-day affairs. On the day of the prime minister’s policy statement and the public declaration that recall orders had been issued, the media also reported the appointment of yet another serving army officer as secretary works in Northern Areas. The incumbent secretary works just retired from the army. The retiring officer, however, has not only been given extension till August 14, but another serving army officer has been nominated in advance to replace him on his retirement. The reported appointment of the serving military officer to a civilian job on the heels of declaration of the government policy dampens the enthusiasm generated by the announcement. It also places an unnecessary question mark over whether recall orders had indeed been issued. The PPP leader regretted that not only army officers had been heading some key civilian organizations but upon their retirement they were being replaced by other military officials. This practice is continuing in the area even after restoration of full democracy in the country and against the directives of the political and military leadership. Besides creating public alienation and anger, the move will continue to badly affect local civilian officers’ future, as their promotions have been blocked for the last many years due to induction of army officers, they pointed out. They said extension in retired officers’ tenure was also unconstitutional and the new government should take notice of it in the interests of the local population. The PPP leaders demanded that the government should order immediate withdrawal of the army officers posted in key civilian posts in Gilgit-Baltistan so that local civil officers could be posted in their places. Meanwhile, members of the Northern Areas Legislative Assembly Hafiz Hafeezur Rehman of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) criticized the recent appointment of an armyman in the Northern Areas and described it a conspiracy to sabotage the revolutionary step of the new government. He also opined that such appointments would further create a sense of deprivation among the people of Gilgit-Baltistan, who had been deprived of their right and promotions in the government departments for the past many years. He regretted that on the very day of the prime minister’s policy statement that orders had been issued to recall army officers, there were reports about the appointment of yet another serving army officer as secretary works in Gilgit-Baltistan. The incumbent secretary works just retired from the army but was, however, not only given extension till August 14 but another serving army officer was nominated in advance to replace him. The appointment of a serving military officer to a civil job on the heels of declarations of policy and intent dampens the enthusiasm generated by the announcement.