Raza Rabbani wants to open a new pendora box about ISI
ISLAMABAD - Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader and former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani wants to open a new debate and pendora box over the premier intelligence agency ISI.
He on Thursday demanded an in-camera session of parliament for discussion on funds allocated in the budget for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director-general for ‘special assignments’.
Taking part in budget debate in the Upper House of parliament, Rabbani said the government had allocated Rs 4.5 billion funds in the budget for fiscal year 2018-19 for the ISI DG for ‘special assignments’. During a post-budget press conference, the government in response to a question had said that utilization of those funds could not be made public.
He demanded that the government summon an in-camera session of the parliament to brief parliamentarians about the ‘special assignments’ of the DG ISI.”We are not asking about other expenses but what do they mean by a ‘special assignment’. This needs to be explained,” Rabbani said. “The parliament should be taken into confidence over this payment made to the DG ISI,” he added.
Rabbani also took note of a marked increase in defence expenditure for the upcoming year. “The defence budget has been increased by 20% on the federal government’s recommendations. In the same way, budget for federal government expenditure has also increased.
But, regretfully, the allocation for Public Sector Development Program has been reduced, which will have a direct impact on the general public,” he maintained.
Rabbani also questioned if increase in defence and federal expenditures has had any effect on the National Finance Commission (NFC) award. “The NFC award was not announced due to increase in defence and federal expenditures of the government.
This is the fourth budget which the government presented without NFC award,” he regretted.”Neither this nor a four-month budget was needed, as the caretaker setup would have had the authority to take finance-related decisions,” he said. Appreciating the annual budget, PML-F leader Muzaffar Hussain Shah stressed the need to provide more incentives to the agriculture sector. He claimed that the economic situation in 2018 was far better as compared to that in 2013 due to prudent economic policies of the incumbent government.