After a three-year legal battle, lady luck seems to have smiled on a senior official of the education department after the prime minister finally approved her appointment as the new director general (DG) of the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE).
However, sources suggest that the Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) has thrown a spanner by dillydallying on the issuance of a formal notification for Dr Shahnaz Riaz’s appointment.
The directorate has been running without a head for the past two months after the Supreme Court removed its former DG, Atif Mehmood Kayani, while deciding a petition filed by Riaz.
In her petition, she had challenged Kayani’s illegibility, saying that he only had a third division bachelors degree and was ineligible to lead an education department where senior persons with PhDs are working as his subordinates.
Riaz has been battling against the illegal appointments of FDE chiefs in various courts for the past three years. Despite winning the cases, she was never allowed to enjoy the position she had been struggling for due to power wrangling in the department.
Sources said CADD is still holding back on issuing a notification in this regard despite the prime minister’s approval of the summary last Friday. It was learnt that CADD again wrote to the Establishment Division that since Riaz’s case is still in court, her appointment should be temporarily held off.
In its verdict on May 17, the Supreme Court had directed the then-CADD secretary Imtiaz Inayat Elahi to immediately appoint an eligible and qualified person to fill the slot, but the ministry delayed sending a summary for weeks and ultimately recommended three names - Professor Mujahid Zameer, Raja Abdul Hafiz and Dr Shahnaz Riaz.
Sources stated that in view of Riaz’s qualifications, the PM approved her name for the slot. She holds a PhD in Education Management from highly-reputed Columbia University, New York. The DG slot is promotion-based and officials within the FDE are supposed to be given preference.
Unfortunately, the political tug-of-war within the department has resulted in the appointment and removal of 10 DGs in just three years. “The situation has significantly affected the performance of the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) based department as it is often without a head or sometimes headed by persons who have nothing to do with education,” said an FDE director.
The FDE, too, has created tremendous problems for students, teachers and other people who regularly visit the department to get their pending issues resolved, said a teacher, on condition of anonymity. Most of the visitors come from far-flung areas but return disappointed. People have complained of absence of directors during office hours, saying that they are not entertained even when officials are present.
“Irrespective of his qualification, Atif Kayani was a man who had people’s respect. We had easy access to his office and he would always listen to our problems and resolve them,” said Liaquat Khan, a former employee of the education department who visits FDE on a daily basis to settle an issue pertaining to his pension.
A teacher, who wished not to be named, said she too had to visit the department everyday to resolve her transfer issue but no one listened to her plea. Every officer gives an excuse that no decision can be taken in the absence of a DG, she said.
Despite repeated efforts, no FDE or CADD official were available to comment on the issue.
Earlier, CADD Joint Secretary Rafiq Tahir, who is also looking into the educational affairs, had said that the delay in the appointment was due to change in the country’s prime minister. He was hopeful that the issue would be resolved shortly.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2012.
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