The civilian awards that stirred up quite a controversy when President Asif Ali Zardari announced its beneficiaries on Independence Day this year, came at a cost of approximately Rs3.5 million. In addition to that, Rs31.2 million will be given to the families of 26 nominees of Nishan-e-Shujaat who gave their lives for Pakistan this year.
Officials associated with the awards wing of the Cabinet Division said around Rs1.2 million was spent on manufacturing 15 Nishan-e-Pakistan trophies, along with Tamgha-i-Pakistan, Sitara-i-Quaid-e-Azam, Sitara-i-Pakistan and Hilal-i-Pakistan trophies.
An amount of Rs0.6 million was spent on 27 Tamgha-i-Shujaat trophies, Rs0.4 million on manufacturing 70 Tamgha-i-Imtiaz trophies, Rs0.3 million on 44 President’s Award for Pride of Performance trophies and Rs0.9 million on over 45 other trophies this year.
A net amount of Rs1.2 million will be handed out with each Nishan-e-Shujaat, Rs1 million with each Sitara-i-Shujaat, Rs0.8 million for each Tamgha-i-Shujaat and Rs0.5 million with each President’s Award for Pride of Performance.
The manufacturing cost of these awards is almost negligible, said Director General (Military Wing) Brig (retd) Zulfiqar Ali Gorsi. Zulfiqar, who deals with awards in the Cabinet Division, said that Pakistanis are eligible for Shujaat-i-Imtiaz and President’s Awards for Pride of Performance while foreign nationals can be given civil awards in any order for eminence and outstanding services to Pakistan.
Civil awards, which comprise five orders, are generally conferred on citizens under Article 259 (2) of the Constitution, 1973 read with the Decorations Act, 1975, he added.
Meanwhile, a detailed study of the exercise of Decorations Act, 1975 and Notification No 1/10/79-Awards revealed that President Zardari had been kind enough to confer civil awards on some of his associates and federal cabinet members this year.
By doing so, he apparently went past the traditions of former prime ministers Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto, both of whom had barred awarding civil awards to cabinet members and civil servants. President Zardari conferred the awards on 185 Pakistanis and foreigners in various fields.
However, President Zardari’s political adviser Senator Faisal Raza Abidi neither confirmed nor denied these facts.
Media adviser to the chief minister Sharmila Farooqi, however, was singing a happier tune when she said, “President Zardari is an exceptional human being because of his comprehension pertaining to his associates.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 4th, 2011.
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