It wasn’t just the bigwigs who lost their jobs during the last two weeks, but the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led government has sent over 200 senior bureaucrats, attorneys and officials packing ever since the party came into power after the May general elections.
The government claims that either the dismissed officers were sent home on corruption charges or their respective contracts have expired. But the removal of top officials has raised eyebrows and concerns on why chiefs and senior officials of important constitutional bodies and bureaucratic agencies are ‘falling like dominos’.
“The government relieved 40 law officers from their duties at various superior courts including the Ministry of Law and Justice,” former deputy attorney general Shafi Chandio lamented.
“They were all fired recently,” he told The Express Tribune. “I myself was kicked out from Supreme Court last month for no reason.”
Shafi Chandio said the government sent away hundreds of contractual employees, including 40 law officers, without prior notices.
“I received a simple termination letter when I reached the office. It read, ‘Your services are no longer required,’” he told The Express Tribune.
The National Bank of Pakistan president Dr Asif Brohi was sent on leave in September and the government has advertised the post as vacant. Brohi, who is the senior-most NBP officer, was appointed president of the bank during the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government.
The government had also suspended Accountant General of Pakistan Tahir Mehmood for three months last week. His appointment, the government claimed, was illegal. However, Islamabad High Court (IHC) cancelled his suspension order. IHC has also ordered stay notices on the removal of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) chief and the Pemra chairman.
Dozens of contractual officers have been sacked from Pakistan Steel Mills, NADRA, Pakistan Railways, National Accountability Bureau, National Counter-Terrorism Authority, Civil Aviation Authority, Water and Power Ministry, Pakistan State Oil, Government Holdings (Private) Limited, National Highways Authority, Pakistan Housing Authority, Higher Education Commission, Supreme Court and two high courts, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, Pakistan Utility Store Corporation and other autonomous bodies such as Pakistan Tourism Development Authority.
Most of the victims have challenged their termination from service in different courts including superior courts.
“Every government has the prerogative to build its own team. However, the way PML-N has tried to dismiss officers has raised suspicions that the reasons for removal is more than just administrative,” said PPP MNA Nafisa Shah. The midnight notification of NADRA chairman’s removal is a case in point, she added.
“It’s quite unfortunate and unfair as many of these employees have been serving for several years now.” The label of corruption is slapped on to them to justify the use of arbitrary powers and get rid of those who perhaps do not tow their line or do not fit into their power games, she contended.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MNA Shafqat Mahmood was of the view that corrupt officials should be dismissed but the way the present government had tried to prematurely terminate senior officials from their posts, including the NADRA chief, was against the law.
However, Information Minister Pervez Rashid insisted that dismissed officials were facing corruption charges. He cited the example of the Pemra chairman who was allegedly involved in malpractices.
PML-N leader Siddiqul Farooq also categorically stated while that all terminations were made without violating any rules. “It’s our policy to fire those officials who have been involved in corruption and who were not hired on merit,” he explained.
Leader of the House in the Senate Raja Zafarul Haq did not know about his government’s policy pertaining to termination of hundreds of employees. “I’ll only say that it varies from case to case but there is no political maligning behind it. We just want good governance.”
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2013.
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