MANDI BAHAUDDIN: Mandi Bahauddin’s ex-servicemen have appealed to the Supreme Commander of the Pakistan armed forces, President Asif Ali Zardari, to implement the ‘One-Rank One-Pay’ scheme with immediate effect. This scheme, if implemented, means that personnel retiring at the same rank and putting in the same tenure of service get the same pension irrespective of the year of retirement. This appeal was made in a meeting of about 60 retired soldiers that was held under arrangement of the Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Society, Mandi Bahauddin. In the meeting, Honorary Captain Amin said that the gap between old retirees and new retirees of the same rank and service lengths had increased. He said that the government had completely forgotten ex-servicemen and war veterans. When there is an increase in pensions, it is made only with regard to current pensions and the commuted portion of the pension is excluded. This means that the increase is only made on half of the pension. He said that it was unjust to deprive ex-servicemen of their legitimate rights. Although the army is running many welfare projects under the Fauji Foundation, Askari Bank and the Army Welfare Trust for promotion of serving soldiers and ex servicemen’s welfare, it is regretful that benefits provided by these institutions do not reach a majority of ex-servicemen of lower ranks.
Army commanders have ignored retired soldiers. They have never established contact with them to know their problems. Local administration and the police treat ex-soldiers as aliens. When they visit military hospitals, the attitude of the medical staff is indifferent. Medical facilities and medicines provided at dispensaries and health centres run by the Fauji Foundation are substandard.
During the meeting, another ex-soldier said that ever since his retirement from the army, he has been receiving a paltry amount of money every month that goes towards shopping for household items and nothing is left for him. He said that when he compares himself with civilian pensioners of the same status and grade like patwaris, policemen, officials of the rank of tehsildars and police inspectors, he cannot help but pity himself.
The ex-servicemen urge the higher command of the armed forces and the president to initiate necessary steps to promote the welfare of ex-servicemen so that they may lead respectable lives.
Major (retd) Sher Muhammad Gondal
Pakistan Ex-Servicemen Society
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2012.
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