Another campaign against the Pakistan Army is launched but this time from the other side of the political divide

Another campaign against the Pakistan Army is launched but this time from...

Islamabad, Pakistan: A new narrative is being shared in social media and even otherwise that the budget for grant 2024-25 of the Federal government is not prepared by politicians rather this budget has been enforced onto them by the non-political cadre of the country. This campaign shunned the responsibility of the ruling party in the federation that presented the budget and also diverted the wrath of people toward the Pakistan Army.

Pakistan’s annual budget system is politically quite complex. The Federation is responsible for paying back loans, providing shares to federating units (provinces) through the National Finance Commission (NFC), carrying the burden of huge civil and military bureaucracy in which one officer of civil bureaucracy BPS-20 costs over 1.6 million per month, and managing national security as well. Now bureaucrats have managed to extend their retirement age from 60 years’ age to 62 years, giving an idea to politicians that it would minimize the burden on pensions for at least two years to please IMF offices.

   

According to the PIDE report, the lifetime cost of a 22 BPS official is around Rs. 869 million, the PBS-21 cost is Rs. 781 million and the BPS-20 officer costs Rs. 689 million to the public exchequer

BPS-205527727613834970689
BPS-216268731304345633781
BPS-226979734864836274869

 

According to the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, the headcount of federal government employees in Pakistan is 1,374,911 as of December 2022. This number includes civilians, armed forces, and autonomous/semi-autonomous/corporations.

campaign against the Pakistan Army

Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE) Report about the lifetime Cost of Public Servants 2023 indicates the government spends an ample amount of money on paying its employees and providing pensions. The cost of paying these employees is about Rs 3 trillion, and pensions cost about Rs 1.5 trillion. Project workers, people working in government companies, and other organizations, cost approximately another Rs 2.5 trillion. Salaries for the military, the total amount spent on wages becomes around Rs 1 trillion.

The Basic Pay Scale (BPS) of 1983 has undergone a series of revisions, with a total of 12 updates implemented since its inception. The most recent revision took place in 2022. None of these revisions were based on modern HR principles to develop modern public sector incentives with market conditions and the needs of modern management instead, the colonial system of ad-hoc pay and pensions committees patches up the system with allowances. The periodic adjustments in the BPS 1983 underscore a commitment to ensuring fair and competitive compensation for employees over time. The 2022 revision serves as the latest effort to recalibrate the scale by prevailing economic indicators and the organization’s strategic considerations. This process of revision demonstrates an organization’s responsiveness to changing circumstances and its dedication to maintaining equitable compensation practices. The Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) was increasingly favored with non-monetary benefits and better appointments. The secretariat and other ministries’ staff also gain 150% of their basic salary as allowances. Medical reimbursement and job security are additional discounts for public sector employees.

Since the Federal Government has again enhanced salaries of public servants by more than 20% and did not broaden the tax base and not tax the middleman economy, shopkeepers and traders to avoid protests against the government and to please government employees who are vehicles to get maximum benefits other than monthly salaries, now calculate campaign has appeared in media asking “who made the budget”? The target is as always the Pakistan Army but this campaign is mostly coming from the political side of the ruling party. The campaign is that this is Pakistan Army who made the budget and politicians just presented it in Parliament, therefore the culprit is the military for the economic burden over the public who are not public servants (government employees). This campaign suits the ruling parties manifold because they have already taken away ‘cream de cream’ of the budget in the form of provincial share for expenditures for PPP (Sindh), PMLN (Punjab), and PTI (KPK) and left the rest of burdens to Federal government to face the music. Since traders, shopkeepers, and middleman economy have not been taxed, therefore there would be no protests from them thereby provincial governments who manage civil law and order situations would not be politically burdened.

The Federal government offers itself as a sacrificial goat to manage a huge share of the budget for their provincial governments and keep their provincial governments out of the threat of protests. Since only private sector employees would face the burden of enhancement of tax ratio on salaries and private people who are not government officials have not got a 20% increase in their earnings. However, daily wage laborers or private sector employees cannot enjoy the pleasure of protesting on the road and getting the wage of that day, therefore they are not in a position to ‘save’ their time on the streets to protest against the government. This pleasure is only for government employees who can spend 30 days on the road protesting against the government but even then they get the salaries of the time they did not attend the offices.

All the points as mentioned earlier confirm that the federal government by design did not tax those who should have been taxed and enhanced salaries of government employees for political reasons. Still, now diverting the attention of the public, they are indirectly building up a narrative that the federal government had nothing to do with budget making. It was the military that imposed this budget on them. Political parties will take credit for making provincial budgets because that suits them as they have money to spend and offer public jobs to their workers.

It may be noted that PPP may not join the Federal Government after this budget as PPP circles claim that this is a typical PMLN budget that always pleases traders, the middleman economy, shopkeepers, and bureaucrats. They claim PMLN always takes sitting or former bureaucrats of PAS as advisors, special assistants, and consultants, and this cadre of administration have a mindset of giving a damn to anything related to a common man, therefore PPP cannot take the baggage of PMLN style of governance. This situation aggravates the political divide and the burden has to move towards someone to shun the responsibility of the PMLN written budget and the scapegoat is as always Pakistan Army.

This campaign which is slow but steady will fan hatred against the Pakistan Army which is already facing a foreign-funded campaign led by PTI against the military since former prime minister Imran Khan was voted out from the National Assembly in April 2022. As there are reports that PTI is planning another May 9, 2023 kind of vandalism against the Pakistan Army, the narrative spread by a ruling political elite that Amy makes the ‘budget’ would be dangerous and can provide oil to fire. Now it is up to those who matter to handle this campaign and find who is behind this new campaign against them.

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