ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Friday appointed Shahid Ashraf Tarar as Pakistan’s executive director to the World Bank in Washington, after allegedly sidestepping the prescribed procedure.
According to sources, instead of offering the post in all ministries and departments as per protocol, the Finance Ministry preapproved a panel of three, out of which Tarar was handpicked. The other two choices included former federal secretary Arifa Saboohi and Establishment Division (ED) in-charge secretary Asad Hayaud Din.
Tarar, who is also former president Rafiq Tarar’s nephew, has previously served as the National Highway Authority chairperson, and is credited with successfully implementing development plans laid out by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s government.
Although he is considered to be one of the most competent officers in the Pakistan Administrative Service, the unorthodox way of appointing him, may make his appointment controversial.
The post of World Bank executive director was previously occupied by Nasir Khosa, who completed his tenure.
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The executive director, against a lucrative annual salary, represents seven nations - Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Tunisia, Morocco, Ghana and Algeria - on the World Bank’s board. The posts of executive director and alternate executive director rotate between Pakistan and Algeria after every two years.
The executive director post is currently held by Algeria’s Omar Bougara and Khosa was his alternate executive director.
They are both hired to defend development projects of the seven countries while providing input on their macroeconomic reports, giving opinions on global economic issues and defending the quotas and voting rights of their constituency.
Tarar will officially retire in early 2019 but he will stay beyond his age of retirement due to the fixed term of three years.
According to the April 2000 office memorandum from the ED, all ministries, divisions and provincial governments are to be informed about any vacancies available at international organisations, foreign governments and United Nations agencies.
Once all departments have been informed, the ED Special Selection Board (SSB) is supposed to shortlist candidates, for the prime minister to make a decision.
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However, the government did not follow this procedure and the Finance Ministry directly sent a summary to the premier, sources informed The Express Tribune.
Former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf had appointed his son-in-law through a similar non-prescribed procedure but the appointment could not be defended in the Supreme Court of Pakistan and Raja Azeem had to be called back.
It is pertinent to note that even during Khosa’s appointment the government evaded procedure and did not even conduct interviews for the handpicked candidates.
The post of executive director to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is also vacant for the past few months. Shahid Mehmood, the incumbent secretary finance, was Pakistan’s executive director to the IMF. Similarly, the post of executive director to the Asian Development Bank (ADB), based in Manila, will be vacant by January next year.
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