ISLAMABAD           -        The federal government Friday told the Senate that it had taken no decision to curtail retirement age of government employees from 60 to 55 years and to abolish their pension benefits.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan termed such news circulating on social media as misleading and categorically said there was no truth in such reports.

He was responding the call attention notice jointly moved by senators A. Rehman Malik and Mir Kabeer Shahi drawing attention of the advisor to the Prime Minister on finance and revenue towards the “proposed plan” of the government to curtail the retirement age of the government employees and to put an end to their monthly pension.

“As of today, the government has taken no decision regarding reduction in retirement age of government employees or no proposal has been received in this regard,” he said while quoting the two letters received by the Ministry of Finance and Cabinet Division, which were the decision making and implementation bodies on the issue.

The state minister explained that Civil Servants Act 1973 deals with the retirement age and pension benefits of the government employees and according to the Cabinet Division, any change in it required a fresh enactment of the parliament.

“The successive governments did not strengthen the civil service during last five decades and no check was placed on those who were given powers,” the state minister said adding that the government was only moving towards bringing reforms in civil service. “We will facilitate the government employees but at the same time they would be asked to work efficiently,” he said.

Earlier, PPP senior leader and Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior Senator A. Rehman Malik alleged that PTI government was working on the dictation of International Monetary Fund (IMF) which probably had demanded reduction in government employees. “So, it was planned to reduce the strength of government employees by reducing the age of retirement from 60 to 55.” He advised the government to refrain from making such unwise moves against employees who were expecting to support their life after retirement with pension.

PPP Senator stressed that if government took such a cruel decision against government servants, it would face a lot of complications and agitation. He said that it was time for the country to come out of IMF influence for which time and again he had urged the government to use the Force Majeure law due to the outbreak of pandemic for waiving off its loans besides other external debts.

“I had predicted that value of rupee against dollar will sharply fall and it may fall up to Rs 180 against one US Dollar,” he said adding that there was an understanding of Pakistan with IMF to get it dropped to Rs 186.

While responding to the criticism of PML-N Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan, State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan said that neither the incumbent government was going to roll back China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project nor it handed over the Indian Air Force Pilot Abhinandan Varthaman to India under the pressure of US. He mentioned an in-camera parliamentary briefing on release of IAF pilot and said that all leadership of the political parties including Shahbaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari were present there and none of them opposed handing over of plot to India. “They even had said that it was a good gesture,” he said adding that the opposition’s stance in indoor meetings was different than what they reflected in public.

Leader of the House Dr Shahzad Waseem in his response to the speeches of Senator Mushahid Ullah and PPP Senator Mian Raza Rabbani said that the opposition should not go to that extent where national interests would suffer. “China’s presence in Chabahar would bring stability in the region and Gwadar and Chabahar would become sister ports,” he said. He added that India’s presence in Iranian port was not in Pakistan’s national interest. The opposition benches staged a protest walkout from the house when the leader of the house at the start of his speech said that they should either hear to him or leave the house.

Earlier, the parliamentary leader of PML-N in the Senate Mushahid Ullah Khan alleged PTI government for releasing Abhinandan under US pressure. He said that China’s decision to invest $400 billion in Iran speaks volume that PTI government was doing nothing on CPEC. He alleged that the incumbent government had done nothing on CPEC during the last two years.

The parliamentary leader of PPP in the Senate Sherry Rehman asked the government to inform who had freed former Tehreek-e-Taliban spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan. He was the one who had accepted responsibility of Army Public School massacre in Peshawar, she said. “Why is he not in the custody (of any law enforcement agency)?” She said that former TTP spokesman through a Tweet has threatened Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Prime Minister Imran Khan would be responsible if Bilawal suffered any damage. PPP Senator Raza Rabbani told the chair that some anonymous person had been making telephonic calls to the deputy commissioners of different districts in Sindh in his name asking them for favours. He said that he had informed the director general Federal Investigation (FIA) in two letters asking him to investigate the matter.