By Asim Qadeer Rana
Azmaish Ka Waqt
The recent purchase of two bulletproof Mercedes cars for the security squad of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif may cast aspersions on the trumpeted austerity drive launched himself by the premier. The purchase of the luxury vehicles, according to a source, will cost Rs 200 million to the exchequer.
The two Mercedes-Benz cars are in addition to two bulletproof BMW vehicles purchased a few months back by the office of the prime minister.
When contacted, Mohiuddin Wani, press secretary to the prime minister, in his usual carefree style, advised this scribe to contact Rao Tehseen, the principle information officer (PIO).
But, despite repeated attempts, the PIO could not be reached to give his version on the matter. A text message was also sent to the mobile phone of Rao Tehseen, but it remained unanswered till the filing of this story.
According to sources, the cars would be used for the prime minister’s security. The newly-added Mercedes High Security Sedans in the prime minister’s motorcade cost Rs 100 million each.
The German Mercedes-Benz bulletproof luxury vehicles would secure the prime minister’s journey during his engagements anywhere in Pakistan or abroad.
Sources added that in this particular case, the security branch of the Prime Minister’s House moved a summary to the Prime Minister’s Office, demanding two high-security vehicles. The Prime Minister’s Office approved the payment recently, and as soon as it was done, the finance minister moved swiftly to get tax exemptions from the FBR.
An official, requesting not to be named, added that the current move was aimed at enhancing the bulletproof security cover for the prime minister, which was a need of the hour. He claimed that because of rising terrorist attacks, the prime minister needed these vehicles.
“This purchase is not meant for an individual or a personality, for God’s sake. It is for the Prime Minister of Pakistan,” responded another official.
Sources in the Prime Minister’s House said that the vehicles in the prime minister’s security convoy had a long life because of good protection; however, the entry of new bulletproof German luxury cars put question mark on the bulletproof vehicles already in the use of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“We need foolproof security and in countries like Sri Lanka or even in India, purchase of such vehicles for the head of the state or the government is a routine matter. Please do not make an issue of it,” another official said.