The state’s highhandedness

Sun Online Desk

2nd March, 2021 08:58:38 printer

The state’s highhandedness

Despite the agreement, critics continue to question the state’s strategy, especially since anti-government protests are likely to continue happening in the capital.

As the government employees took to Islamabad’s streets earlier this month they were met with the force of the law enforcement agencies, bringing to light the state’s autocratic tendencies. The federal government employees launched the protest in the capital to demand raise in their monthly wages. The employees maintained they deserved a 40% increase in the salaries and were protesting under the umbrella of All Government Employees Grand Alliance. They gathered at the Constitution Avenue prompting backlash from the state machinery. 

Observers maintain that protests against the government in the capital, are not new and the police and neither are security agencies brutalities against demonstrators. Over the years, the same scenes have been repeated on a number of occasions and it was repeated this month.

The government had allocated heavy contingents of police, Anti-Riot Units, Counter Terrorism Department, Anti-Terrorism Force and Police commandos to stop the march. The employees had gathered at the Constitution Avenue after their leader Rehman Bajwa and nine others were arrested a day before. The protestors tried to march towards Parliament but police started teargas shelling— reportedly 1,000 shells—and arrested the protestors. 

The protest spread across the city, resulting in a layer of smog over the capital due to heavy teargas shelling. Dozens of protestors fainted and other citizens were also affected. The protestors had the support of employees over 17th grade, All Pakistan Clerk Association and government employees from Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. During the protest, it was also reported that the police used expired teargas shells on the protestors, resulting more injuries. 

Commenting on the situation, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed blamed the protestors for the chaos. He said the government dealt with the protestors correctly as the demonstrators had gone back on the agreement. 

“We dealt with this correctly, we are increasing the salaries of 95 percent employees at an average of 40 percent,” the interior minister said. He also claimed that the government had agreed to increase the salaries of employees from Grade-I to 16. However, the demonstrators were demanding an increase for employees till Grade-22. 

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak was also critical of the protests. “The protesters had made a new demand for raising salaries of employees till grade 22 which was not possible at the moment,” Khattak said. He further added that the provincial government employees, who were also part of the protest, are responsibility of concerned governments under the 18th amendment. 

Meanwhile, opposition slammed the government for the teargas shelling and arrest of protestors. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutoo Zardari said, “The selected government should accept legitimate demands of protestors and release the arrested employees.” 

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim-League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif asked the government to “stop this merciless torture on protestors.” She added, “the government must not target innocent employees with teargas and baton charge, they are not enemies rather they are merely demanding their rights.”

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) also condemned the use of force against protestors. PFUJ President Shahzad Zulfiqar and Secretary General said, “the government should hold talks with the employees instead of using high handedness as they have been denied since long for pay raises.”

After the heavy demonstration, government’s delegation including Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed, Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak, held negotiations with the protestors. After the talk, the federal government agreed to increase the employees’ salaries by 25%. As per the deal: “those civil employees in BPS (1-19) … who have never been allowed additional salary equal to or more than 100% of the basic pay” from March 1, 2021.

The notification further said: “The posts BPS (1-16) or equivalent will be upgraded on the pattern of Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa w.e.f. 01 March, 2021. During a press conference, the government delegation confirmed that the federal employees from Grade 1 to 19 would be given an ad hoc relief of 25% pay raise, while the issues of their upgradation would be resolved after next budget. 

Despite the agreement, critics continue to question the state’s strategy, especially since anti-government protests are likely to continue happening in the capital. Political experts also point to the duplicity of the critique of the opposition parties, which have displayed similar highhandedness against protestors when being a part of the government in the past.

Source: nation.com.pk

 

 

The state’s highhandedness

Despite the agreement, critics continue to question the state’s strategy, especially since anti-government protests are likely to continue happening in the capital.

 

 

 

As the government employees took to Islamabad’s streets earlier this month they were met with the force of the law enforcement agencies, bringing to light the state’s autocratic tendencies. The federal government employees launched the protest in the capital to demand raise in their monthly wages. The employees maintained they deserved a 40% increase in the salaries and were protesting under the umbrella of All Government Employees Grand Alliance. They gathered at the Constitution Avenue prompting backlash from the state machinery. 

Observers maintain that protests against the government in the capital, are not new and the police and neither are security agencies brutalities against demonstrators. Over the years, the same scenes have been repeated on a number of occasions and it was repeated this month.

The government had allocated heavy contingents of police, Anti-Riot Units, Counter Terrorism Department, Anti-Terrorism Force and Police commandos to stop the march. The employees had gathered at the Constitution Avenue after their leader Rehman Bajwa and nine others were arrested a day before. The protestors tried to march towards Parliament but police started teargas shelling— reportedly 1,000 shells—and arrested the protestors. 

The protest spread across the city, resulting in a layer of smog over the capital due to heavy teargas shelling. Dozens of protestors fainted and other citizens were also affected. The protestors had the support of employees over 17th grade, All Pakistan Clerk Association and government employees from Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. During the protest, it was also reported that the police used expired teargas shells on the protestors, resulting more injuries. 

Commenting on the situation, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed blamed the protestors for the chaos. He said the government dealt with the protestors correctly as the demonstrators had gone back on the agreement. 

“We dealt with this correctly, we are increasing the salaries of 95 percent employees at an average of 40 percent,” the interior minister said. He also claimed that the government had agreed to increase the salaries of employees from Grade-I to 16. However, the demonstrators were demanding an increase for employees till Grade-22. 

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak was also critical of the protests. “The protesters had made a new demand for raising salaries of employees till grade 22 which was not possible at the moment,” Khattak said. He further added that the provincial government employees, who were also part of the protest, are responsibility of concerned governments under the 18th amendment. 

Meanwhile, opposition slammed the government for the teargas shelling and arrest of protestors. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutoo Zardari said, “The selected government should accept legitimate demands of protestors and release the arrested employees.” 

Meanwhile, Pakistan Muslim-League-Nawaz (PML-N) Vice President Maryam Nawaz Sharif asked the government to “stop this merciless torture on protestors.” She added, “the government must not target innocent employees with teargas and baton charge, they are not enemies rather they are merely demanding their rights.”

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) also condemned the use of force against protestors. PFUJ President Shahzad Zulfiqar and Secretary General said, “the government should hold talks with the employees instead of using high handedness as they have been denied since long for pay raises.”

After the heavy demonstration, government’s delegation including Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed, Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak, held negotiations with the protestors. After the talk, the federal government agreed to increase the employees’ salaries by 25%. As per the deal: “those civil employees in BPS (1-19) … who have never been allowed additional salary equal to or more than 100% of the basic pay” from March 1, 2021.

The notification further said: “The posts BPS (1-16) or equivalent will be upgraded on the pattern of Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa w.e.f. 01 March, 2021. During a press conference, the government delegation confirmed that the federal employees from Grade 1 to 19 would be given an ad hoc relief of 25% pay raise, while the issues of their upgradation would be resolved after next budget. 

Despite the agreement, critics continue to question the state’s strategy, especially since anti-government protests are likely to continue happening in the capital. Political experts also point to the duplicity of the critique of the opposition parties, which have displayed similar highhandedness against protestors when being a part of the government in the past.

 


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