Two years on, Rescue 1122 Academy still without DG

Post is lying vacant since contract of Amir Hamza expired

Muhammad Shahzad January 08, 2020

LAHORE: Even after the lapse of two years, the Punjab government is yet to initiate a process to appoint the director general of Punjab Emergency Service (Rescue 1122) Academy.

The fresh directives of the Punjab Emergency Council held on November 6, 2019, are also yet to materialise.

The council’s meeting, chaired by the chief minister, had asked the administration department of Rescue 1122 to start the recruitment process against the post of PES Academy DG.

The post had been lying vacant since the contract of Amir Hamza as DG expired in January 2017. No one knew who had enjoyed the additional charge of the post in absence of the appointment of a director general.

Rescue 1122 responds to 2,759 emergencies

The minutes of the meeting read: “The council was briefed that the posts of DG PES Rescue 1122 and DG PES Academy are tenure posts and against which services of Dr Rizwan Naseer cannot be regularised”.

The council meeting had approved the grant of a one-year extension in contract to Dr Rizwan Naseer as DG Punjab Emergency Service. Naseer’s contract had expired on October 16, 2019. It took about two months. However, on January 6, the Punjab government issued a formal order of a one-year extension of Rizwan Naseer as DG Punjab Emergency Service.

Meanwhile, no substantial step regarding the appointment of the academy’s director general was taken. Efforts to contact Home Additional Chief Secretary Momin Agha for comments on the issue were made but he did not respond.

Rescue 1122 has an interesting story regarding its director generals, their appointments and the tussle to hold the fort. Rescue 1122 was initiated as a pilot project in 2004.

In 2006, the promulgation of the Punjab Emergency Service Act provided it with a legal cover and Dr Rizwan Naseer was appointed as the director general.

Since then, he has served as DG except for one year in 2015 when he left to join the Pakistan Red Crescent Society.

In his absence, Arshad Zia was appointed as the acting director general.

However, within one year he came back to join Rescue 1122 as the DG in October 2016. A sour situation emerged when Dr Naseer had come to take charge as DG while acting DG Arshad Zia had refused to hand it over stating that the order Dr Naseer produced was an old one which had become redundant.

However, the matter was sorted out after the intervention of the administrative department and Dr Naseer was appointed as DG.

In his absence in January 2016, Amir Hamza was appointed as the director general of the academy. A dispute between Rescue Service DG Arshad Zia and the then Academy DG Amir Hamza had erupted during a high-level meeting.

Both had exchanged harsh words with each other during the meeting over control of the meeting in front of the senior rescue officers.

A conflict had also beenported between Rescue Service DG Rizwan Naseer and Academy DG Amir Hamza over shifting of Rescue 1122 headquarters from LOS Ferozepur Road to the Punjab Emergency Services Academy building.

On one fine morning of January 2017, the officers at Rescue 1122 headquarters led by their director-general Dr Rizwan Naseer shifted their offices to the Emergency Services Academy (ESA) that too at night.

The shifting had become a bone of contention between the two officers. ESA DG Amir Hamza had requested to defer the move till the conclusion of an ongoing international training programme.

Rescue 1122 begins final exercise for international accreditation

A few days before the shifting, some officers of Rescue 1122 led by Dr Rizwan had arrived at the ESA without reportedly informing the DG academy and allegedly occupied the conference room where training was going on.

An additional secretary of the home department had to intervene to pacify the situation.

DG Dr Naseer had responded to the instances stating that shifting of the Rescue headquarters from LOS Ferozepur Road was long ago planned as the building was ill-planned.

About the ‘occupying’ conference room during the ongoing training, he had remarked that he had done his job as evaluation of the performance and activities of the service was his domain as being the director general.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 8th, 2020.


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