PML-N moves ECP against Zartaj Gul over sister’s appointment

The minister drew sharp criticism after the appointment her sister Shabnam Gul as a director of Nacta


Saqib Virk June 03, 2019
Zartaj Gul. PHOTO: EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) on Monday filed a petition with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), seeking disqualification of Federal Minister Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul over abuse of power.

Gul drew sharp criticism after the appointment her sister Shabnam Gul as a director of the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA). A controversy erupted after news took rounds on social media that a letter from her official gave to preferential treatment to her sister.

However, Prime Minister Imran Khan took notice of the controversy surrounding the appointment of Gul and directed the minister of state to withdraw the letter written to Nacta, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, Naeemul Haque, said on Sunday.

Now, PML-N’s lawmaker in the Punjab Assembly, Hina Pervez Butt, moved the ECP, accusing Zartaj of misusing powers of the government office. She alleged that the minister of state violated her oath by abuse of powers.

“Zartaj Gul used her political influence to appoint her sister as an officer in Nacta,” the petitioner maintained, adding that the minister of state’s claim that her sister [Shabnam Gul] fulfilled the merit for the position was a lie.

Shabnam was serving as an assistant professor at the Lahore College for Women University (LCWU) in Grade-18, however, her appointment as a director of the key counter-terrorism body of the country was made in Grade-19.

According to reports, Zartaj’s Principal Staff Officer Samiul Haq wrote the letter to Interior Secretary Major (retd) Azam Suleman Khan on February 27, and asked him to take “necessary action” regarding the appointment of Shabnam in Nacta.

Initially, Nacta declined to comment on the authenticity of the letter, but a later said in a statement: "Zartaj Gul did not write any letter. The letter attributed to her, which is being discussed in the media, was written by Zartaj's principal staff officer to the secretary Interior."

Zartaj herself took to Twitter over the weekend, describing Nacta's statement on the matter as a "comprehensive clarification"m which "blew away the nonsense being peddled in a section of the local media". She said: "One cannot disenfranchise a deserving candidate just because they happen to be related to a government minister."

Butt said that her petition was against a group of people “who have always deceived” the people. “I want to expose the deceitful group which gained power through false means,” Butt told reporters after submitting her petition to the ECP.

“This deceitful group has also filed a petition against Mariyum Nawaz. However, Maryam Nawaz has never assumed a[ny] government office. Zartaj Gul lied and misused her authority,” Butt said, adding that she had appealed the ECP to disqualify the minister for abusing her powers.

Butt maintained that the one, who commits crime must be punished. “Pardoning the culprit does not eliminate the crime. Imran Khan kept staging slogans of appointing people on merit, but such an appointment in a security institution like Nacta should not have been made,” she said.

“I have also submitted a request to the speaker of the National Assembly. Zartaj Gul does not meet the requirements under Articles 62 and 63 [of the Constitution] which makes her disqualification as a clear case,” she claimed.

“Article 62 and 63 deal with the violation of the oath…We will file a solid case against Zartaj Gul. The members of the assembly must be truthful and trustworthy. The sister of Zartaj Gul has not done her PhD and Prime Minister Imran Khan has admitted to the lies of Zartaj Gul.”

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