In a letter to President Asif Ali Zardari, former president Muhammad Rafiq Tarar requested an increase in his pension and other perks and privileges, a source requesting anonymity told The Express Tribune.
A few months ago, the former president – who served in office from 1998 to 2001 – addressed a letter to President Zardari, requesting an increase in his pension, the source said. Tarar, however, still awaits a reply, even though the incumbent president forwarded the request to the ministry of law.
In his letter, the former president said that keeping in view the fact that pension of other former public office holders had gradually been increased, his legal right to such benefits should also be recognised.
Despite being called repeatedly Tarar was not available to give his reaction. Once, however, an individual did answer a call on the former president’s cell phone number but said that he will only comment on the matter after consulting Tarar. The individual refused to identify himself and disconnected the call.
Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar also did not reply to queries regarding the matter.
Petition in the LHC
In February 2011, before approaching President Zardari with the matter, Tarar also filed a petition in the Lahore High Court (LHC) which according to his legal counsel is still pending.
In his petition, Tarar sought a court directive to make the federal government pay his outstanding salaries and increase his pension and other benefits. Tarar also maintained that he never resigned from the presidential office.
Way before completing his term, Tarar was sent home by General Pervez Musharraf, who gave the impression that Tarar had voluntarily resigned from the office.
Tarar in his petition is demanding a release of his salaries with effect from December 1, 2001 to September 8, 2008 with a raise of 85 per cent.
He also asked the court to declare him as the president for the period when Musharraf removed him from the presidency in June 2001 and captured his office till September 2008.
The court may make such order as Musharraf was an unconstitutional and unlawful president, Tarar’s counsel argued.
According to his counsel, Tarar plans to donate arrears of his pension and salaries to welfare organisations.
In June 2012, the National Assembly, on an initiative of the federal government, proposed an amendment to improve pension and other financial benefits of the ex-presidents of Pakistan. The expenses of those benefits have been integrated in the Finance Bill of 2012-13. A clause in the President’s Pension Act had ensured that the president is provided with suitable security for life, including services personnel, vehicle and allied privileges.
Earlier, Musharraf also increased pensions and other perks for former presidents. He increased the monthly salary of the presidents by 130 per cent, raising them from Rs23,000 to Rs57,000 in Feb 2002. He also amended the President’s Pension Act, according to which presidents are entitled to receive pension equal to 85 per cent of their salary. Earlier, former presidents were entitled to Rs10,000 per month.
Apart from a pension, retired presidents are allowed to have free official residence for life or rent at the rate of Rs50,000 per month if the official residence is not provided or occupied.
The former president is also entitled to a monthly car allowance of Rs20,000 or a higher amount, keeping in view the price of fuel, cost of car and its maintenance.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2013.