Senate passes amendment in Pakistan Air Force Act, 1953
Senate on Monday passed amendment in the Pakistan Air Force Act, 1953 that gives powers to the Air Force to reopen cases, with retrospective effect, against retired officers under the Air Force Act by majority vote with the government and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf joining hands.
The senators from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), however did not take part in the vote. Apprehending that back dated-legislation seemed to target some unspecified former officers of the PAF, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Farhatullah Babar asked the government to explain the rationale behind the back-dated legislation.
No one is against trial under the PAF act of retired officers involved in corruption, he said, adding that it is also well known that Army and Navy also try their retired officers under their respective Acts if found involved in corruption and do not send their cases to National Accountability Bureau or any other civilian agency.
Babar said that a PAF officer who retired 17 years ago is a civilian and can be tried for alleged corruption under the stringent provisions of the NAB applicable from 1985.
“What is the special need for amending the PAF Act with a back-dated effect,” he asked.
The whole thing smacks of malafide intent, persons specific and shady which, will only undermine the credibility of the institution and the trial for corruption under the amended PAF Act itself, he said.
Senator Babar had also submitted a dissenting note at the time of its passage by the defence committee of the senate a few weeks ago. Later, he moved an amendment to do away with retrospective effect and to make it applicable prospectively which however was not allowed.
“Until the rationale for making back date legislation is adequately explained, doubts will linger that it is some person specific and not intended to root out corruption,” he said. He said that justification advanced in the name of secrecy and sensitivity is spurious as provisions exist for addressing issues in sensitivity in trial courts also.
Farhatullah Babar said that lately the security establishment had exposed itself to have scant regard for the courts, the parliament and everything civilian.
Whether it was the back-dated amendment recently in the National Command Authority Act, or refusal to answer parliamentary questions about post retirement perks and privileges of senior officers or the present Bill the story was the same, he said.
“I beseech the security establishment to please look inwardly and ask itself whether it was right,” he said. Law Minister Zahid Hamid said that it was necessary to get the amendment passed as the PAF does not want to disclose the “sensitive information” in the corruption cases openly to the NAB or any other anti-corruption body.
Making a statement on behalf of the Prime Minister’s Advisor to Foreign Affairs, Minister for States and Frontier Regions Abdul Qadir Baloch informed the Senate that Pakistan and Iran enjoy excellent relations and there is a desire on both sides to further cement these relations by enhancing their trade to five billion dollars.
He said that recent statement of the Iranian Army Chief was highly inappropriate but the Iranian Ambassador in Pakistan has clarified that the statement was taken out of context. He said the Iranian side has retracted the statement. About the recent Afghan firing near Chaman, the minister said that negotiations are underway at different levels in order to reduce the tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan. He said that recently two delegations visited Afghanistan and held positive talks with the top Afghan leadership.
Abdul Qadir Baloch said that CPEC is a project between Pakistan and China and no proposal is under consideration to change its name. About the Indian government approaching the International Court of Justice on Kulbhushan Yadav, the minister said that Pakistan has properly prepared the case and will fight it at the ICJ.
The minister said that the Prime Minister has accepted an invitation to attend the Arab Summit in Riyadh. He said the moot will be attended by heads of government and state from other Muslim countries and matters relating to Muslim Ummah will be discussed there.