The apex court has sought legal assistance from Attorney General for Pakistan (AGP) over the purchase of armoured personnel carriers (APC) by Sindh police from Serbia instead of Pakistan’s Heavy Mechanical Complex (HMC) in Taxila.
A three-judge bench, headed by Justice Jawwad S Khawaja, took up an application filed by a Mehmood Akhtar Naqvi against the purchase of APC vehicles by Sindh police at a colossal amount.
The Sindh police has entered into an agreement with Yugoimport SDPR, a Serbian state-run company, for purchase of 20 Lazar II armoured fighting vehicles of B-7 category that will cost Rs1.24 billion.
Qasim Ejaz, an official of the HMC, informed the court that the APC manufactured in Pakistan has the same specification as Lazar II. When asked as to whether he had checked out the Serbian vehicles, the HMC official said the APCs have not yet arrived in the country.
Upon this, one of the bench members, Justice Sarmad, asked Sindh police’s counsel Irfan Qadir as to why they purchased the vehicle from Serbia when the same quality APCs are available in Pakistan.
The counsel claimed that there was vast difference in the quality of the two manufacturers. “The Dragon armoured personnel carriers – manufactured at the HMC, Taxila – are of B-6 category protection level.
“These vehicle offer protection against 7.62x51mm rounds of assault rifles, but are ineffective against assault rifles of larger calibre, while Lazar-II is multi-role armoured, which survive small to medium-level improvised explosive device attacks,” he said.
The bench, however, said how could Sindh police object to the quality of a vehicle with which the army was satisfied.
Justice Jawwad noted that the court will examine whether or not Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) Rules were observed in the purchase as well as why more money was paid when the same quality APCs were available in the country.
Justice Sarmad remarked that it was a national issue. “Two years have passed and yet the Sindh police is still dilly-dallying over the issue.”
Farooq H Naek, representing Sindh government, pointed out that as the two sides had entered into a contract the Serbian company would be well within its rights to take the matter up with the International Court for Arbitration if the other side reneged on the deal. The hearing was later adjourned for a week.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2015.
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