People Party is at it again – pushing friends and loyalists for lucrative appointments.
Questions have been raised in the Senate on the appointment of TV anchor Dr Shahid Masood as Chairman and Managing Director of the PTV.
PML-N Senator Saadia Abbasi, who had also raised similar questions on the appointment of another TV anchor, Mubashar Luqman, has moved a question in the Senate for investigation into the circumstances in which unprecedented financial benefits were offered to Dr Shahid Masood. Saadia was critical of some anchorpersons who, she alleged, used their media positions as stepping stones to bargain lucrative packages from the same people whom they criticised as anchors.
She said that as a senator, she was drawing a salary of Rs 31,000 per month, but asked why an anchorperson should be paid hundreds of thousands of rupees from the public exchequer. Debate on the issue is expected in the next session of the Senate, she added.
In addition to The News story, it has also been rumoured that apart from a lucrative package and perks, Dr Shahid Masood, who is said to be a close confidante of Mr. Zardari, will be getting a hefty share of the sponsorship revenue accrued by any programs hosted and anchored by him. If that is correct, it will be a first in television broadcast history of Pakistan.
In another news item, The News reports that the PPP-led coalition government is pushing favourites and party loyalists for important jobs.
This is being done in such a hurry that in some cases, private recommendation letters on the PPP letterheads are also being forwarded, along with federal ministers’ directives, to different government agencies. Such party letters today make part of official files.
These appointments are being made in addition to those being processed through the Task Force on Recruitment, which is seen as the latest version of the previously ill reputed Peoples Placement Bureau.
The Task Force, as reported earlier, is headed by two political appointees and close associates of Asif Ali Zardari, one of them enjoying the status of a federal minister. It primarily deals with BS-1 to BS-16 appointments in the government departments.
Official documents, including directives issued by some of the federal ministers, available with The News, show it is yet another crude method of appointment, proving that favouritism instead of merit and the rule of law was being followed.
In one case, Information Minister Sherry Rehman, who is also acting as the health minister, has recommended the appointment of a PPP supporter in London as adviser, special assistant or consultant to the health minister or “against any suitable post falling under the health ministry”.
On a PPP letterhead, one Dr Mirza Ikhtiar Baig, deputy coordinator Peoples Business Forum, writes to the information minister on May 20: “Dear Ms Sherry Rehman: Dr Mukhtar Bhutto, a diehard PPP supporter, had close contacts with Shaheed Benazir Bhutto in London. Our Quaid also helped him in his medical studies in the UK. Dr Mukhtar Bhutto was a great support to me in my election campaign. I am forwarding his letter of request with his CV for your kind consideration for any suitable position with the request to kindly do the needful.”
The attached CV of the PPP supporter, which too is now part of official record, says: “I am a strong devotee of my beloved mother like the Pakistan People’s Party…” He sees the information minister as a “Roshan Meenar” for the party workers and hopes that he would not be disappointed and given the opportunity “to serve Pakistan and Pakistani, subsequently our Pakistan People’s Party”.
Following the receipt of the above recommendation, the information minister’s office formally referred the case to the secretary health under the signatures of Rao Tehsin Ali Khan, Director General, to information minister.
The recommendation letter of Dr Mirza Ikhtiar Baig and the CV of Dr Mukhtar Bhutto were also attached with the request formally referred to the secretary health. The letter issued by Sherry Rehman’s office on June 5 said: “Enclosed please find an application of Dr Mukhtar Bhutto, recommended by Dr Mirza Ikhtiar Baig, Deputy Coordinator, People’s Business Forum, requesting for appointment as Adviser/Special Assistant/Consultant to the Ministry of Health or any suitable alternative in the said Ministry….”
Since the health ministry could not appoint adviser, special assistant or consultant on its own and without the approval of the prime minister, it forwarded the minister’s directive, along with attached recommendation letter and the CV to all programme managers and project coordinators, leading health projects under the health ministry, with the request that they should indicate the position as per qualification of the PPP supporter for his appointment.
In yet another case, a PPP MNA Tasneem Ahmed Qureshi approached the health minister with a request that a serving income additional commissioner Dr Malik Muhammad Khan Awan should be appointed in any of the leading health ministry programmes.
Despite the fact that inviting such political interference into service matters by a serving bureaucrat tantamounts to misconduct under the Estacode — the book of law, rules, policies, etc, governing civil bureaucracy — still Sherry Rehman’s Director General Rao Tehsin Ali Khan wrote to the secretary health: “Enclosed please find a self-explanatory request of Dr Malik Muhammd Khan Awan, Additional Commissioner, Legal-I, Large Taxpayer Unit, Lahore, on the subject above (Requisition of services of Dr Malik Muhammad Khan Awan from Federal Board of Revenue to Ministry of Health) noted above. The minister has desired that a report may please be sent to this office for the issuance of orders of the minister.”
The health ministry in this case too, referred the minister’s directive, along with the taxman’s application, to all programme managers and project coordinators under it to indicate the vacant position as per Awan’s qualification for onward submission of a report to the health minister (read information minister).
Sherry Rehman, when contacted, denied that she had issued any such directive to any government department. When asked that the directives were issued by her office under the signatures of her DG, she expressed her ignorance, saying, “Not that I know of.”
The information minister said that MNAs and others, including journalists, bring job requests to her but she never compromises on merit and seeks appointments only through the Placement Bureau (she probably meant Task Force on Recruitment).
While there are reports of several other ministers involved in similar practices, Sherry Rehman’s case is interesting for the reason that she is one of the foreign qualified ministers, who during her journalistic carrier, has been reflecting on the issue of merit, good governance and the rule of law.
In another news item, it is reported that Chief Minster of Sindh, Syed Qaim Ali Shah is posting his favourites in different departments, forcing officials to ignore merit and obey his orders.
The News has learnt that Ghulam Muhammad Mangi, a chemical engineering graduate, has been posted as the superintending engineer (SE) in the Irrigation Department on the directives of the chief minister.
Ghulam Muhammad Mangi was working as deputy manager in the Sui Southern Gas Company. His brother, who is very close to the chief minister, asked Qaim Ali Shah to post Mangi at some key post in the Sindh government.
Accordingly, the chief minster posted Mangi as an SE in the Irrigation Department, while violating the rules. Sources said Mangi was a chemical engineer and had no technical knowhow of irrigation.
Pointing at another such appointment, the sources said the CM accommodated Akhtar Nabi Dogar, the nephew of a senior official, by posting him as the District Officer Works and Services.
They disclosed that Dogar was working as Deputy Operations Manager in Hesco. Being an electrical engineer, he had the proper qualification for the job he was doing. There is a recommendation of the Pakistan Engineering Council that graduates in chemistry, electronics, electrical, meteorology etc should never be posted on posts that require civil engineering graduates.
On the other hand, the Cabinet Division has also made the same resolve. The sources pointed out that Chief Minster Qaim Ali Shah, who had pledged to ensure transparency and not to indulge in any favouritism, political or otherwise, was also engaged in the same practice in which the past rulers were involved.
The CM is also using his discretionary powers, the sources said and quoted that he promoted a clerk of the Revenue Department and appointed him as Assistant Mukhtiarkar. Sources disclosed that the clerk, Mazhar alias Machar, was in charge of the CM House, Khairpur, and had been very close to Qaim Ali Shah.
Sources said the past rulers had also violated the rules to accommodate their favourites but the PPP government, which had announced to end that practice, was continuing the same. Sources also pointed out that the graduates in different disciplines were posted in Grade 17 in the Punjab, Balochistan and the NWFP but they were given Grade 11 in Sindh.
Whats remarkable is that all the news items are published in one day – July 3rd – if the People’s Party continue to go at this rate, any non PPP person will soon be out of the job to make room for democracy loving jiyalas, I love this country.