The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the withdrawal of additional and unprecedented perks and privileges to former Prime Ministers Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Yousuf Raza Gilani and former Interior Minister Rehman Malik and to his predecessors in a notification issued on March 4, just days before the outgoing government’s term was to come to an end. During the course of the proceedings, the court remarked that to provide selective security and that too for a limited period of time by the state was acceptable, but it was not possible to provide security to anybody and everybody for life. However, the Interior Secretary Siddiq Akbar, who was present in the court, quickly rose to the rostrum and informed the Supreme Court that the notification authorizing these privileges was withdrawn the same day it was issued. The court also did not entertain the argument submitted by the Advocate on Record that since Rehman Malik was facing threat from Taliban, he needed extraordinary security. The court, instead, responded by saying that providing security to every citizen of the state was a fundamental responsibility of the government.

A five-member bench that was hearing a suo motto case was informed that Rs 272.51 million would be spent annually from the public exchequer if the order passed by former PM Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, extending an unprecedented security protocol to him and his predecessor Yousaf Raza Gilani, were to be implemented. The said notification says that former federal ministers, excluding ministers in the caretaker setup, can benefit from the facilities like protocol coverage to be provided by Federal Investigation Agency to the ministers, their spouses and children at all airports of the country. They could also get the services of a personal staff officer/assistant private secretary/personal assistant, a driver, and an orderly, all to be appointed by the National Data Base Regulatory Authority. Apart from that, as many as 450 policemen would be needed to provide security to the two former premiers Yousuf Gilani and Raja Ashraf. One would like to hope and expect that the Supreme Court scrutinize all of the last week’s actions of the previous federal and provincial governments and set things right.