People across social media have erupted in anger over Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad’s comments about how the PTI government “tested tear gas” on the Islamabad protesters earlier this week, with many saying it was a highly insensitive move on his part.
Sheikh Rasheed was addressing an event in Islamabad Sunday evening when he had said the government “provided a 25% increase in the salaries and used some tear gas as well [since] it was necessary”.
“Because, by using the tear gas, it can be tested. [The tear gas canisters] were stashed uselessly. We tested it a little bit, not a lot. We have a lot more stored safely though.”
A police officer had died after falling sick due to the intense tear gas shelling fired to disperse the federal government employees demanding a pay raise to deal with rising inflation.
PML-N leader Mohammad Zubair noted that “in any other country, a statement like this would mean immediate firing of the minister and an apology from the government”.
Any other time or in any other country, a statement like this would mean immediate firing of the minister and an apology from the government. Nothing of the sort here. He will not only survive but blatantly defend the statement. Shameless is no word to describe https://t.co/wSVBoOPU73
— Mohammad Zubair (@Real_MZubair) February 14, 2021
“What a gross statement,” said PPP Senator Rubina Khalid.
“Days after police in Islamabad fired tear gas on protesting government employees, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Sunday made light of the incident,” wrote journalist Mariana Baabar.
Days after police in Islamabad fired tear gas on protesting government employees, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Sunday made light of the incident, saying it was "necessary to test the tear gas as it had been unused for a long time". @dawn_com
This is criminal.
— Mariana Baabar (@MarianaBaabar) February 14, 2021
Notably, a ministerial committee reached an agreement with the representatives of agitating employees calling off the protest.
Under the agreement, an ad hoc relief of 25 per cent increase in basic pay will be given to the federal government employees, which will be made part of their salaries in the next budget.
The special committee constituted by Prime Minister Imran Khan was headed by Federal Minister for Defence Pervez Khattak and had federal Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan as its members.
Mr Khattak told a press conference that the government had decided to give 25pc (of the basic pay) as ad hoc relief to the federal government employees.
Later, the Ministry of Finance in a statement said that it, in accordance with the agreement, had agreed in principle to give “Disparity Reduction Allowance @ 25% of the basic pay of BPS-2017… to those civil employees in BPS (1-19) of the Federal Government (including employees of Federal Secretariat and attached departments) who have never been allowed additional salary equal to or more than 100% of the basic pay [whether frozen or not] or performance allowance”.
It said that the raise would be effective from March 1.
“The posts [of federal government employees] from BPS 1 to16 or equivalent will be upgraded on the pattern of Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa from March 1, the finance division said. The grant of time-scale would also be considered on the same pattern in the next budget, it added.
It said that “Ad hoc Relief” will be made part of the basic salary with effect from July under the next budget.
Ali Mohammad Khan said that Wednesday was a bad day, otherwise employees remained peaceful throughout their movement. “There is a huge difference between the salaries of government employees, some are getting Rs20,000 (per month) and others Rs80,000,”
The minister of state said, adding that Prime Minister Khan wanted to end this disparity as he talked about one Pakistan and not the two. However, he also warned the employees “not to repeat the incident of Wednesday”.
Before the announcement, the special committee signed an agreement with the representatives of government employees.
On Wednesday, the area near Parliament House known as Red Zone had turned into a war zone, with the protesters and the police clashing with each other.