ISLAMABAD: The government may have to enhance by more than 10 times the pension of former president Rafique Tarar and fix it higher than that of the chief justice of Pakistan to ‘restore honour’ of the country’s highest office.
The matter of increase in the salary of the former president who also retired as a senior judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan before rising to hold the office of the president on Jan 1, 1998, has been referred to the laws review committee led by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar.
Feeling neglected and disgraced, the octogenarian former president had recently reminded the PML-N government that Mr Sharif’s party had once elevated him to the highest office but his pension stood frozen at Rs48,450 per month for 15 years due to “ill-will” of the two successive governments of retired Gen Pervez Musharraf and the PPP while the salaries and pensions of all others have been continuously increasing.
In fact, the former president has advised the government to permanently fix 10-30 per cent higher the ‘salary and pension’ of the president of Pakistan than the salary and pension of the chief justice of the Supreme Court to restore the “honour and grace of the Presidency” and automatically ensure gradual adjustment every year. To achieve this, Mr Tarar has recommended slightly amending Section 3 of the President Salary Act and Section 2 of the President Pension Act.
He wrote that the monthly pension of the private secretary of the president of Pakistan was Rs81,000 at present against his frozen pension at Rs48,450 per month. Honourable judges of the superior courts are entitled to draw 70-85 per cent of their salaries that comes to about Rs450,000-580,000 per month.
Mr Tarar said his pension stood capped at Rs48,450 per month at the level of June 20, 2001, when he was illegally removed from the office of the president under an ordinance issued by Mr Musharraf eight months after his eviction.
At the time, this pension was 32pc higher than the pension of the chief justice and rightly so because the president is the appointing authority of the chief justice. He said the law was kept intentionally silent due to the ‘ill-will’ of a draftsman of Mr Musharraf’s adviser, Tariq Aziz, instead of linking the pension to normal annual increase in salaries and pensions of Grade 1 to 23 of the government servants.
Like the military government, the democratic government of PPP was also unkind to the former president, he complained. He said the PPP blocked his pension on his retirement from the Supreme Court and was subsequently compelled to release on resolutions of the Senate.
However, Mr Tarar said he had been wondering why his own government had become a hindrance to his pension increase. He said the Supreme Court of Pakistan had declared Mr Musharraf as an illegal military dictator in the Sindh High Court Bar Association case, saying Mr Tarar had neither resigned nor his five-year term had expired when he was evicted from the Presidency. This meant Mr Tarar was the legal president of the country until the oath of president administered to Asif Ali Zardari.
He said to his knowledge, former president Zardari was not drawing pension and hence he would be the only president to avail the benefit of increased pensions and only the Almighty knew for how long and hence the financial impact would be minimal.
The former president said he would not demand increase in pension if the present government led by Nawaz Sharif, who has always been very kind to him, wanted to keep the pension of a former president lower than his own private secretary. He said the question of pension money was secondary but in a country where the status and respect is determined by salary during service and pension after retirement the issue was very critical.
courtesy : Dawn News