ISLAMABAD  - Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Tuesday drawing attention of the government in the Senate towards resentment among civilian officers of the Military Lands and Cantonments Department demanded that the cadre post of Director General of the department should be given back to the civilian officers after the retirement of the incumbent serving general this week.

The continued retention of the civilian cadre post by serving military officers is illegal, a violation of the SC order of June 2013, a recipe to demoralize and undermine civilian structures and above all a conflict of interest that will bring a bad name to the military institution, said PPP lawmaker Farhatullah Babar on a call attention notice moved by himself. He said, "Civilian officers held the post of Military Lands and Cantonments (ML&C) since 1924 but it came under the control of military officers from 1999 when then military dictator Pervez Musharraf appointed a serving general on the post." He said that DG is BS 21 civilian cadre post of the ML&C Department and the Public Service Commission through CSS exams makes appointments to it.

This was a continuous cause of concern among the civilian cadre officers, Babar said adding that in July last year Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif showing his resentment had directed that no non-cadre officer will be appointed on the post next time when he appointed a serving major general on the post on a summary moved by Ministry of Defence. He said now this was being planned o give extension to the incumbent DG who was retiring this week and this had again caused resentment among civilian officers.

"It is a deliberate attempt to circumvent the orders of the Prime Minister," he remarked.

The senior legislator from opposition benches said that Supreme Court had also declared illegal the absorption of a non-civil servant on a civil post and the absorption of a non-cadre civil servant to a cadre post without due process of competitive examination under the recruitment rules. "Establishment Division sent the copy of the decision of the court to all divisions in January 2014," he informed.

He also pointed out that the federal government was the owner of Military Lands and Cantonments and army was the land user and to appoint a serving military officer that belongs to land user with the task to protect the lands was a clear conflict of interest. He said that huge irregularities have been committed in changing the use of defence lands for commercial purposes n the past. When the previous parliaments agitated the issue the defence ministry had secured from the caretaker Prime Minister in 2007 an unprecedented and questionable blanket waiver of all such irregularities.

He demanded a categorical assurance from the government that on the retirement of the incumbent serving general the post of DG ML& C should be reverted to the civil.  Minister for Defence Productions Rana Tanveer gave a vague answer saying, "I want to assure the House this will not happen in future but as the officer has been given two-year contract on the post and if the army gave him extension then the issue becomes more technical."

He added that he would have to check from the government.

However, he said there was a provision in the law for the appointment of non-cadre officer but Babar rebutted his claim saying non-cadre office could be appointed on other than cadre post. Earlier, the House restarted the previous day's debate on the current political situation developed recently in the country due to certain reasons. Hafiz Hamdullah of JUI-F proposed for the formation of a joint committee of Senate as well as National Assembly's standing committees on information to resolve the issue what he said infighting of media.

He proposed that a code of conduct of media should be framed and also opposed closure of Geo TV "JUI-F stands behind the government to save democracy," he remarked. He criticized that one foot of PTI chief Imran Khan was in the Parliament and the other in military establishment while Dr Tahirul Qadri of Pakistan Awami Tehreek was standing in between both.

He said the government's own ministries had different point of views on same issues and said, "It looks like two cabinets within one cabinet." Jaffer Iqbal of PML-N said Pakistan was being destabilized through targeting the elections of 2013 and Kamal Ali Agha of PML-Q criticised Geo TV for, what he said, humiliating the DG ISI and aired a controversial blasphemous programme. Deputy Chairman Senate Sabir Ali Baloch, who was in the chair, said that Geo TV should apologize to PPP leadership for its tainted behaviour as it had been involved in the character assassination of the leadership of the party in the past before the House was adjourned till Wednesday at 4 pm.