ISLAMABAD: The Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary Nargis Sethi, who is learnt to have earned more foes than friends due to her efforts to “block the promotions of certain civil servants”, is hectically maneuvering to leave the Prime Minister’s Secretariat and get a lucrative job abroad well before the end of the premier’s tenure.
Sources in the Prime Minister’s Secretariat told The Express Tribune that Sethi has been lobbying to get a three-year contractual assignment in the World Bank as Pakistan’s executive director. She is maneuvering to replace Javed Talat, whose contract will end next year. Javed Talat, a former finance secretary and NRO beneficiary, was appointed by the incumbent regime in 2008.
However, Sethi denies this. “I am not an aspirant for the post of the executive director at the World Bank,” she told The Express Tribune. She said: “My endeavour is to guide the prime minister to the best of my abilities and according to rules and regulations”. She said the premier was happy with her work, adding that the premier had appreciated her efforts and described her as a role model for men and women alike.
On a question Nargis Sethi said it was incorrect to say that she was going abroad because of her husband because this was not the first time they were working at different stations.
Nargis had earlier managed to get her husband, Saleem Sethi appointed in the International Monetary Fund as Pakistan’s representative despite the fact he did not fulfill the qualification criterion.
Saleem was serving in the finance ministry as an additional secretary (external finance). He took his new assignment in November. Saleem Sethi’s appointment was secured through an alleged “managed interview”, said the sources.
“Nargis Sethi has been blocking promotions of certain civil servants for the past one and a half years just to get her and her spouse promoted to the next basic pay scale”, said a sitting federal secretary on condition of anonymity. He said: “She mostly keeps the prime minister out of the access of the federal secretaries.”
Nargis said that while serving at a higher position one cannot keep everyone happy and she was not surprised that certain people were unhappy with her.
Another top government functionary confirmed Nargis’ attempts for the WB position. He said the chances of her being successful were bright but it may take a few more months.
Nargis Sethi belongs to the powerful district management group but even this group has started working against Mrs Sethi.
Sources said that she may win the lucrative post due to her “strong links”, which may not be surprising while bearing in mind the appointment of Ismail Qureshi as Rector of National School for Public Policy. Before that Qureshi, hailing from a political family, was serving as Secretary Establishment that too on extension.
On the other hand, a little-known Grade-21 officer, Javed Akhtar is using his contacts in the Presidency to become secretary, economic affairs division in place of Sibtain Fazal Halim. Sibtain is going to retire in March.
Javed Akhtar is infamous for his connections and is said to have “little knowledge of economic issues”. Javed, formerly an employee of the National Logistics Cell, is currently serving as secretary in-charge of the ministry of minority affairs. He was promoted to BPS-22 but the decision was reversed by superior courts.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 26th, 2010.
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