In a recent turn of events, a Right to Information (RTI) request has exposed an intriguing contrast in the payment of pensions to overseas civil and military pensioners in Pakistan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) has confirmed that a total of 164 pensioners living abroad are receiving their pensions in currencies other than the Pakistani rupee.
This revelation has sparked discussions, especially in light of the grievances expressed by retired government servants in Pakistan who have raised concerns about the non-payment of pensions in rupees.
The issue came to light when RTI activist Naeem Sadiq delved into the matter after hearing about a retired squadron leader residing abroad who was reportedly receiving a pension in dollars from Pakistan.
Intrigued by this revelation, Sadiq promptly filed an RTI request with the Pakistan Air Force, seeking information on the number of retired officers abroad receiving pensions in foreign currencies.
However, Sadiq faced a significant hurdle as the requested information was initially withheld by authorities, including the MoFA, the Accountant General of Pakistan (AGPR), and the Pakistan Information Commission (PIC). Undeterred, Sadiq took the matter to the Islamabad High Court, escalating the issue and shining a light on what seemed to be a clandestine matter.
Despite facing resistance, Sadiq’s persistence paid off, as MoFA eventually agreed to share the information after a court notice. This breakthrough brought to the forefront a matter that had been concealed in secrecy, raising questions about the transparency of pension disbursement for overseas retirees.
The revelation that 164 pensioners residing abroad receive their pensions in foreign currencies raises broader questions about the policies and considerations behind such a practice. While retired government servants in Pakistan have voiced their concerns about not receiving pensions in rupees, the contrasting situation for overseas pensioners adds a layer of complexity to the issue.
This case serves as a reminder of the crucial role RTI activists play in uncovering information that might otherwise remain hidden. Naeem Sadiq’s determination to pursue the truth has exposed a discrepancy in the treatment of pensioners based on their geographical location.
As discussions unfold, it remains to be seen how this revelation will impact policies related to pension disbursement for overseas retirees in Pakistan. Will there be a reevaluation of the current practices, or will this information prompt a broader conversation about the transparency and fairness of pension distribution for all retirees, regardless of their location?