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Pak defence budget under scrutiny

However, while discussing "certain aspects" of the allocations for 2006-07, those of the ISI may be kept out.

india Updated: May 31, 2006 11:58 IST

The first-ever parliamentary scrutiny of Pakistan's defence budget is to begin June 1.

But while discussing "certain aspects" of the allocations for 2006-07, those of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) may be kept out.

The Senate Committee on Defence and Defence Production will hear Defence Minister Rao Sikandar Iqbal, Defence Secretary Lt Gen Wasim Ghani and top generals of the Army General Headquarters (GHQ).

The press would be barred from the in-camera exercise. They have been asked to appear before the committee and brief the members ahead of the budget presentation, the Daily Times said.

The defence budget in Pakistan has never been discussed. Its mention in the budget itself is a one-liner, a convention that was set during the ZA Bhutto era when the country was recovering from the shock of a military defeat at the hands of India and the emergence of Bangladesh.

But the one-line mention doesn't go with the concept of transparency being advocated by President Pervez Musharraf.

The committee's top agenda is to discuss how the Pakistan Army formulates the defence budget and who monitors its spending.

While the ISI gets its funds under the defence ministry, the allocation for it may not be part of the scrutiny.

Ali Orakzai, the former defence production secretary, was supposed to appear before the committee but since he was elevated as the North West Frontier Province governor earlier this week, another official might represent the Defence Production division, the newspaper said.

Although the proceedings of all parliamentary committees are open to journalists they are barred from the proceedings of the defence body committee.

Senator Nisar Ahmed Memon will chair the meeting. The other members are Jan Mohammad Jamali, Syed Mushahid Hussain, Kamil Ali Agha, Waqar Ahmed Khan, Syed Dilawar Abbas, Naeed Hussain Chattha, Khursheed Ahmed, Asif Jatoi, Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan Abbasi, Ms Rukhsana Zuberi and Kamran Murtaza.