MUZAFFARABAD: The Local Government and Rural Development (LG&RD) department of the Azad Jammu and Kashmir region hired extra sub-engineers in March 2016, just four months before general elections in the region.
This was discovered by a two-member committee formed by the AJK government to look into irregular appointments in the department. According to the report, available with The Express Tribune, the LG&RD had advertised 14 posts for sub-engineers .
Three weeks later, around 140 hopefuls from 10 districts of AJK had subsequently appeared for written exams for the post. Corresponding interviews were conducted the very same evening without short-listing candidates who had passed the exam. The committee in their report stated that Abu Bakar Muzammil, an assistant engineer at LG&RD department - who was included in the selection team for technical review - used a pencil for marking the papers.
Consequently, when the Muzammil complied the results, he put his signatures in the column of the interview results instead of in the column of the written exam results hinting at alleged tampering.
Moreover, together with interviews without short-listing, constituted violations of the stipulated regulations.
While the advertisements were for 14 posts, the government went on to hire 17 people over these posts.
In an affidavit filed by Muzammil before the committee - and available with The Express Tribune - the assistant engineer said that while he had not been given any written orders for marking, the then-LG&RD Additional Secretary Chaudhry Abdul Rehman verbally instructed him to mark the papers with a pencil to avoid unnecessary overwriting.
Muzammil went on to state that he retained a copy of the award list with him. However, when the final merit list was presented to him for signature, he discovered that the marks mentioned before the names of 13 candidates were not what he had granted to them.
He subsequently refused to sign the results column since he could not endorse the results mentioned on the final merit list.
The committee further stated that the three additional hires were hidden which constituted a separate violation of rules.
Interestingly, during the exam the then deputy secretary of LG&RD had signed and stamped answer sheets. However, an examination of the papers by the committee found that there was no seal or signature on answer sheets of nine of the appointees-implying that the sheets had been replaced.
The attendance sheet also revealed that even though a candidate from Muzaffarabad did not appear for the exam his name had been included in the final merit list.
The report states that despite a quota for candidates from the Bagh, Mirpur and Poonch districts the candidates who did appear from these areas were not selected for the positions and their posts were filled by candidates from other areas.
Moreover, the final merit list carried the signatures of LG&RD Director General Sardar Nusrat Aziz and the LG&RD Additional Secretary In-charge Chaudhry Abdul Rehman.
The report of the committee has been forwarded by the LG&RD secretary to the chief secretary to form a judicial commission on the matter.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2017.