Minister for Defence Pervez Khattak and Minister of Interior Sheikh Rasheed addressed a press conference in Islamabad today regarding the protests outside the Parliament by government employees demanding higher salaries.
“We wanted to give a special allowance up till June,” Pervez Khattak said. “The pay commission is already under session. They will decide for the country till the budget, and the problems will then solve themselves.”
He said that the government employees are demanding 40% of basic pay, while the government has offered them 25% of basic pay. That is where matters are stuck, he said.
“Till yesterday they had talked about raises from grade 1 to 18, but yesterday they suddenly raised it all the way up till grade 22,” Pervez Khattak said.
“The calculation is going on there. We are ready to talk but the government has its limits,” he said. “As much as can be done, considering the condition of the nation and the condition of the treasury, we will do. But if they want everything according to their own demands, it would be difficult.”
The minister added that the government has requested the protesting government employees to wait fo three to four months, until the pay commission decision comes out. “We are willing to talk and give raises as it is,” he added.
Pervez Khattak pointed out that another problem is that the provincial government employees also joined the protest.
“After the 18th amendment, the federal government cannot direct provincial governments to increase salaries. That would be against the Constitution,” he said. “They should ask their own governments. The maximum we can do is ask them to increase salaries.”
Addressing the press conference, Minister for Interior Sheikh Rasheed added that the government suspects that higher grade government employees are behing the protest
“We had talked [or salary raises] up till grade 16, and the protests are by employees up till grade 16, but we had suspected higher grades were behind this,” he said.
“We are prepared to give them 25%,” Sheikh Rasheed reiterated.
“The government and the government employees are the same, so the opposition should not try to interfere,” he added, referring to the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)’s support for the protest.
“The government employees would only suffer. I do not want that to happen,” he said.
“We are ready for 25% whenever they want. We have talked to Finance Ministry and I have talked to the Prime Minister twice over the phone last night,” he added.
The federal minister also thanked the employees of the Pakistan Institute Of Medical Sciences (PIMS) for ending their strike. “The education protestors’ matter is related to the court, not the federal government,” he said.
Sheikh Rasheed added that there has been no decision on releasing arrested protestors yet.