- Prime Minister Imran Khan approves increase in salaries of government employees after their Islamabad protest
- Earlier, sources said the government had agreed to a 20% pay increase and the immediate release of arrested protesters
- Two dozen government employees demanding pay raise were arrested by the Islamabad police a day earlier
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has approved an increase in the salaries of government employees a day after they protested in Islamabad.
Sources say a government negotiating team comprising Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan called on the premier Thursday.
In the meeting, the officials of the Ministry of Finance gave a briefing and detailed information about the burden on the national exchequer due to the increase in salaries.
Sources said the Prime Minister, after briefing the officials of the Ministry of Finance and the negotiating committee, approved the increase in the salaries of government employees, but this approval will also be sought from the Cabinet.
Talks between govt negotiating team and Islamabad protesters
Earlier today, it was reported that successful talks were held between the government committee and representatives of the federal government employees protesting for a raise in salaries.
Sources said a delegation of the government employees was assured of a 20% increase in their salaries and the release of all arrested government employees.
The talks took place at Federal Minister for Defence Pervez Khattak’s house.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid confirmed news of the talks on Twitter. He has instructed the Islamabad administration to release all arrested employees immediately.
Khattak, Ahmed and Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan participated in the talks on behalf of the government.
Why were the govt employees protesting?
The federal government employees were demanding a raise in their salaries and had gathered on Wednesday after their leader Rehman Bajwa and nine others were arrested overnight.
Following the arrests, the government workers in the federal capital had announced they would march towards the Parliament House from Pakistan Secretariat for their demands and the release of their leaders.
The police had resorted to tear gas shelling after they made a move towards the Parliament. The protesters at one point had also encircled Federal Minister for Information Shibli Faraz.
At one point the protesting employees also closed the doors to the secretariat bringing the government machinery to a halt.
At least two dozen protesting employees were taken into custody under Section 16 of the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance (MPO).
The government employees were protesting against the income disparities between various federal government employees. They have been demanding a 40% increase in their salaries.
The protesters have received support from government employees over grade 17, who have also demanded an increase in their salaries.
The All Pakistan Clerks Association and government employees of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan, Punjab and Sindh are also supporting the protest.
Protesters went back on agreement: Sheikh Rasheed
Speaking on the matter, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed told on Wednesday that the government dealt with the protesters “correctly” and that it was the demonstrators that had “gone back on the agreement.”
“We dealt with this correctly we are increasing the salaries of 95% of employees at an average of 40%,” the minister told the TV channel when asked about the situation.
Rasheed had blamed the protestors for going back on the agreement they had made with the federal ministers. He claimed that the government had agreed to increase the salaries of the government employees from grade 1-16.
He said when the government was about to issue the notification in this regard, the protesters demanded that the salaries of employees from grade 17- 22 should also be increased which, he said, will add the burden of billions of rupees to the exchequer.
The interior minister had also claimed that the protestors have the support of the officers. He also refused to the demand of increasing the salaries of provincial officers, clarifying that it was not in the domain of the federal government.
“The matter will be resolved [if] they go back to their initial demands,” said the interior minister.
‘Focus on salaries instead of bribes’
Meanwhile, Awami National Party leader Ameer Haider Hoti said that the demands of the government should be met as he condemned the police assault on them.
Hoti, taking a jibe at the Centre, said that “instead of giving Rs50 million in political bribe”, the government should focus on the government employees’ salaries.
The ANP leader said that he condemns “all sorts of horse-trading” and demanded that people named in the Senate elections 2018 scandal should be removed from office, while an inquiry should be initiated against them.
Islamabad Police fired expired tear gas shells at the protesters.
“These shells have expired as their manufacturing date is 2016, and their shelf life is four years,” Mir said, adding that the authorities should probe the matter.
He further said it was “written on the shells that they should not be fired directly at the people as it could cause serious injury or even death.”
Govt calls protesting female health workers for negotiation
Rukhsana Anwar, President of the National Programme Health Employees Federation Pakistan, says that 1,500 female healthcare workers also went to D Chowk to join the protest, adding that the government had called them for negotiations.
Female healthcare workers had protested in October as well after which the government had signed an agreement with them, promising pension and gratuity, to look into their service structure within three months, and provide security and uniform salaries.