ISLAMABAD: The government has started a headhunt for a new chairman of Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (Parc) who will take over from incumbent Dr Zafar Altaf whose fate hangs on the success or failure to complete his current research assignment within the given deadline.
A search committee has already been constituted for the purpose of selecting the new chairman. The committee comprises Dr Nadeem-ul-Haque, Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, Muhammad Ismail Qureshi, Rector NSPP, Salman Siddique, former Secretary Finance and Junaid Iqbal Chaudhry, Secretary Food & Agriculture with Dr Haque as it chairman.
Advertisements will soon be placed in the international media to shortlist a panel of suitable names for the job.
The President in his letter to the Prime minister on the subject has also directed that Dr Zafar Altaf be placed on notice and be asked to submit a written timeline for development and sowing of hybrid varieties of cotton, and sugarcane within seven days with clear understanding that he will be held accountable.
President Asif Ali Zardari is said to have taken a decision on the issue after attending a briefing by the committee constituted for performance review of Agricultural Research Council on December 13, this year.
The President has also proposed that Pakistan Central Cotton Committee be reorganised and reinforced by the ministry of food & agriculture and relocated in cotton growing area and chartered to undertake development of hybrid seeds.
Earlier, Dr Altaf was accused by the National Assembly’s standing committee on food and agriculture of making illegal appointments in the Council.
The panel in October, 2010 had alleged that Dr Altaf had made 1,000 appointments in PARC in violation of rules and regulation.
He was also charged with nepotism and favouritism in the process of recruitments.
There were media reports that he appointed 300 sons and nephews of high-ups as consultants and honorary consultants in a top scientific institution of the country and has even confirmed 122 of them as permanent employees.
These consultants were offered salaries from Rs20,000 to Rs150,000 and were assigned jobs for which many trained and experienced regular employees were already present.
He is also being accused of appointing 95 consultants besides making 125 other appointments in Parc during his tenure whereas all the projects initiated by him have miserably failed, according to the National Assembly record.
Dr Altaf was appointed for a two-year term in August 2008, which expired four months ago on August 12.
He has strongly rejected all the allegations pertaining to the illegal appointments on political recommendations and said that whatever he did was in the greater interest of the country.
“My crime has been not appointing unqualified persons recommended by you know who and for that I have been accused of all these misdemeanours which I did not commit,” he maintained.
When asked about his performance report which was presented to the president he said it was more of an “inquisition” report and claimed that the real work of research has been done by a scientist whom he had brought from Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa and who he further claimed has not been paid anything by the Parc.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 31st, 2010.
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