Appointing serving military official as DG Military Lands is in violation of SC's orders: Farhatullah Babar

The continued posting of serving military officers since 1999 on the civilians cadre post of Director General (DG) Military Lands and Cantonments is a violation of the Supreme Court’s June 2013 order, conflict of interest, and of keeping the prime minister not fully informed and demoralising civilian service cares, said Senator Farhatullah Babar.

The senator made the said comments while taking part in a discussion in the Senate Defence Committee on Monday with regards to the appointment of a serving major general to the post of DG MLC referred by Chairman Senate.

Chairman of committee Mushahid Hussain Sayed chaired the meeting besides the mover Farhatullah Babar.

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At first, he said that DG Military Lands is supposed to watch the interests of the land owner, namely the federal government, whereas the military is also simultaneously user of the land. Placing the interests of land owner into the hands of land user is a serious conflict of interests, he said.

It can be argued that all irregularities committed in the use of land by the military in the past decades were condoned through a waiver signed by the then caretaker prime minister because the land owners interests were in the hands of the land users. Similarly a former army chief was given 88 acres of land as post retirement benefit, he said.

Secondly, he pointed out that in June 2013, the SC had said that “non-civil servants could not be appointed on deputation to any cadre of government” while declaring illegal appointments to cadre posts without the competitive process by the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC). DG is a BS 21 civilian cadre post and appointments to it are made by the FPSC through CSS exams, he said.

He further stated that, in March 1995, a committee formed by Shaheed Benazir Bhutto strongly opposed any move to place the department under the charge serving officers of the land user department.

Babar argued that eight serving military officers had been appointed to date ever since General Musharraf made, for the first time such an appointment. However, in July 2013, the prime minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf ordered that in the future the post would stand reverted to the civilian cadre, he said reading out excerpts from the order.

He also read out Defence Production Minister Rana Tanveer’s verbatim in the Senate on May 20, 2014, stating that after the last appointment the post will be reverted to the civilian officers of the cadre and asked why it had not been done.

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Babar stated that it appeared facts being were concealed in the summary for the prime minister in October 2014 to change the rules arbitrarily.

The Additional Secretary of the Establishment Division Afzal Latif informed the committee that the summary for amending the rules was moved by the defence ministry directly to the PM House and that the establishment had nothing to do with it.

This created an interesting situation as some members wondered if a prime minister weakened by the dharna felt obliged to approve the summary by passing the laid down procedure.

After some discussion it was decided that the summary will be provided to the members within a week.

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