Defence Secretary Lt-Gen (retd) Asif Yasin Malik on Monday said that the political cell of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had been disbanded five years ago and since then no such cell had operated within the ISI and the agency was not interfering in political matters.

During an in-camera  meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence and Defence Production, Malik said no political cell was operating in the ISI at present nor there was any during the period when General Ahmad Shuja Pasha was DG ISI.

Later briefing media, Chairman of the Committee Mushahid Hussain Syed said the the defence secretary informed that the US had conducted drone attacks from the Shamsi base while it was in its use, adding that, the attacks were carried out with the government’s approval.

The base had been sub-leased to the US by the UAE on Oct 20, 2011 with the approval of then military ruler Pervez Musharraf. It was vacated by the US on Dec 11, 2011.

The defence secretary also presented before the committee the details of the defence budget for the current fiscal year.

He told the committee that the defence budget for the current fiscal year was Rupees 545 billion, out of which, Rs 264 billion had been allocated to the army, Rs 114 billion to the air force, Rs 52 billion to the navy and Rs 92 billion to the ISI, the joint staff headquarter, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) and defence production.

The defence secretary further said that regular audits were conducted in all defence-related institutions, including the ISI.

Malik said the United States had paid Pakistan $ 12 billion since 9/11, adding that, it had not made any payments to Pakistan over its use of the Shamsi air base.

He said since the resumption of Nato supplies from Pakistan to Afghanistan, the US had resumed military aid to Pakistan. He said the coalition support fund is not credited to the GHQ directly but goes to the Finance Ministry. The Finance Ministry then give this amount to the Defence Ministry which distribute it among the armed forces.

He said an amount of Rs 105 billion is paid to the retired armed forces officials as pension which is not part of defence budget but paid out of civilian budget.

He said the training of armed forces is under scholarship and the expenditure is borne by the US.

To a question, he said the Defence Ministry pays Rs 28 billion to the government in the shape of taxes.

The Chairman of the Senate Committee said that national security strategy would be prepared and for this purpose proposals would be sought from the Defence Ministry. He also said that there is need to look at the arms now being purchased because there is no possibility of war on the borders but the internal challenges are more serious. The major challenge is security of the people.

To a question, Mushahid said that Pakistan stands at 33 position  as far as defnece expenditure is concerned which is now 2.3 percent of the GDP. As against this the defence budget of US$ 711 billion, China’s $ 143 billion and India $ 47 billion.