Sheikh Rasheed makes light of excessive tear gas on govt employees

“It was necessary to test tear gas on protesting govt employees as it had been unused for a long time,” says Sheikh Rashid

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Sunday made remarks on the tear gas fired by Islamabad police on protesting government employees stated that it was necessary to test tear gas as it had been unused for a long time.

Addressing a ceremony in Rawalpindi, he said that the capital’s police “fired a little tear gas”, adding that it was necessary to test it since the tear gas canisters had been unused for a long time. He also claimed that only a little was tested, not a lot.

He further added that the real problem was not the tear gas shelling but the pay raise that amounts to billions of rupees in this time of inflation and is a burden on the treasury.

Meanwhile, after police in Islamabad fired tear gas on protesting govt employees, the government on Thursday announced a 25 per cent increase on “ad-hoc” basis in the salaries of employees from grades 1 to 19 at the federal departments.

The announced was made during a press conference jointly addressed by Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan who is part of a committee formed to resolve the issue. Interior Minister Shaikh Rasheed said that the federal government will issue directives to the provinces about the settlement of the matter with employees. The government committee had decided in the meeting to release all the arrested individuals so far.

“The prime minister has talked with the chief ministers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab today, hopefully, the issue will also be resolved at the provincial level,” Pervez Khattak, another member of the government committee, said during a media talk.

“An up-gradation for all employees has been decided in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab,” Khattak added that “It will start in June after the budget. The Adhoc release will merge in their pay scales in June budget,” he said.

The defence minister further added that the committee had decided upon the process of up-gradation for all government employees which would be carried out after the budget announcement in June. A decision on promoting employees based on time-scale approval had also been taken. A policy would be made for it and a procedure would be set.

As previously, the Islamabad police fired tear gas shells at protesting government employees during their demonstration at D-Chowk. Hundreds of government employees assembled at D-Chowk to protest for higher salaries. The government employees were gathered at D-Chowk and planned to march towards Parliament House. The police fired tear gas shells to stop them from marching.

The employee demands to increase salaries, pensions, and other allowances. The government employees are also protesting the income disparities between various federal government employees. They have been demanding a 40% increase in their salaries.

Meanwhile, the Federal cabinet on Tuesday, in its meeting had endorsed a decision to increase the salaries of the federal employees. It directed the provinces to decide for themselves about the salaries of their employees. The two-member committee was formed, comprising interior and defence ministers, tasked with dealing with the protestors is in contact with the finance ministry over the raise.

Raja Furqan Ahmed

Raja Furqan Ahmed is the News Editor of The Pakistan Daily.

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