Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Monday amended the staff car rules to legalise the illegal use of bulletproof vehicles by top politicians, services chiefs and federal ministers.
The premier amended the Staff Car Rules, 1980 after the Public Accounts Committee gave a month’s deadline to the government to either amend the rules to provide for such favours or withdraw the vehicles currently being used by these dignitaries but maintained by the taxpayers’ money.
According to an announcement by the PM House, the following clause has been inserted in rules, “provided that the protected vehicle shall be allocated to a vulnerable dignitary subject to availability and approval of the Prime Minister. However, the repair/maintenance and POL of the vehicle shall be (the) responsibility of the respective Ministry/Division/Department or the dignitary concerned”.
The Public Accounts Committee observed that the rules on the subject do not have any provision for allocation of the protected vehicles to any office holder or dignitary.
The PM House stated that in view of the current security environment prevailing in the country, the retrieval of the vehicles from the dignitaries would not be a viable option. Therefore, on summary by the Cabinet Division, the Prime Minister approved the amendments in the Staff Car Rules, 1980.
Cabinet Secretary Nargis Sethi had briefed the PAC that these vehicles were bought out of a grant issued to the Intelligence Bureau in 2005. The total cost of these vehicles was Rs600 million.
Sethi told the top accountability body of the Parliament that these vehicles were being used by Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Khalid Shameem Wynne, Chairman Senate, Nayyer Hussain Bukhari, Speaker National Assembly Dr Fahmida Mirza,
Speaker Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, chief ministers of Balochistan and KP, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar, Information and Broadcasting Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira and Industries Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi.
Sethi said among the politicians Asfandyar Wali of ANP, Chaudhry Shujaat Husain of PML-Q and Mian Nawaz Sharif of PML-N were using these vehicles.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 22nd, 2012.