BISP takes U-turn, cancels 100 illegal appointments
ISLAMABAD: Within a matter of five days, the Benazir Income Support Programme’s (BISP) top management has buckled in and taken a U-turn by cancelling all the 100 forged appointments recently made in the organisation.
Only a few days back, Farzana Raja, the BISP chairman, had defended these appointments but the programme’s Media Director Shoaib Khan on Thursday told The News that the appointments had been cancelled as they were not approved by the BISP management.
The cancellation has come after The News broke the story on April 10 and also because the officer, who had refused to become part of these appointments, had approached the Chief Justice of Pakistan with the request to inquire into the matter to get these appointments cancelled and protect him from being targeted.
The officer, who has been surrendered to the Establishment Division and is being charge-sheeted for serious allegation of sexual harassment, fears that he would be targeted for refusing to own up what he called the forged call letters issued under his fake signatures.
Media Director Shoaib Khan said that the BISP management had never given approval for these 100 appointments in the Sindh chapter of the programme, so they all had been cancelled. To ensure transparency, he said the process would start afresh to ensure that the appointments were made on merit.
The appointments also caused a huge embarrassment for President Asif Ali Zardari who, according to sources, was briefed on these appointments by Farzana Raja on April 4 at Naudero. It is also said that the president was handed over several of these appointments letters to be handed over to the concerned people. Zardari did not know that these appointment letters, already issued to the candidates concerned, had become controversial as the officer concerned had refused to own them.
On April 9 when The News broke the story, “Major scandal hits BISP”, and disclosed that the programme’s Sindh chief had alleged that 100 “forged” appointment letters of assistant directors, complaint assistants and others had been issued to favourite candidates, the BISP chairperson had refuted the allegations, defended the appointments and had instead blamed the officer of having been involved in a case of sexual harassment.
The BISP media spokesman, Shoaib Khan, on Thursday insisted that Farzana Raja never defended the Sindh BISP appointments but was referring to the countrywide appointments made by the programme as per the government’s policy and the laid down procedure.
However, she was quoted in The News of April 10 to have defended these appointments and insisting that the former DG BISP, Sindh, had put his “twisted” signatures on the call letters and that the recruitment process was completed.
Her media spokesman on Thursday gave a new twist to what she had told The News. In the April 10 story, she was quoted as saying: “Farzana Raja told The News that the signature on the letters were not forged but were ‘twisted’, and she had already referred them to forensic experts.”
In the same report, she was further quoted to have said: “….there has been no irregularity in the recent appointment of 100 BISP officials in Sindh. She said that there has been no violation of merit and that the process of recruitment was followed in line with the procedure and in a transparent manner. Farzana Raja said that her office had also received complaints of sexual harassment against Shamim even from Karachi. She did not have much to say when asked why a sexual harasser was removed from Karachi, given an outstanding report and then made incharge of the BISP, Sindh. She, however, said that the officer had objected to the Sindh appointments only after he got the hint that he was being proceeded against.”
Neither Farzana Raja nor her organisation ever approached The News complaining to have been misquoted or for any clarification on the stories published on the matter in The News. She was also approached on Thursday but her staff claimed that she was busy in a meeting. The chairperson also did not return the call.
It is interesting to note that former DG Sindh Akbar Aleem Shamim, on April 6 had written to his director, secretary/managing director of the BISP in Islamabad and other concerned and insisted that he had not signed what he called the “bogus offer letters”. Shamim had also termed these appointments a criminal conspiracy and warned the concerned director headquarters, Sindh, Pervaiz Iqbal, of proceeding against him under the criminal law.
But the BISP head office in Islamabad, instead of inquiring into the matter, issued an office order on April 8 asking the officer to immediately leave the office. Shamim, when contacted to explain his position vis-i-vis BISP chief’s allegations of sexual harassment, said that he knew that he would be dragged in all sorts of scandals after he had refused to own the appointments, which he insisted were made in violation of merit and without any formal approval.
About the allegations of sexual harassment, he said the BISP chairperson was trying to harass him and explained that the case of sexual harassment during his stint in the Punjab was baseless and was cooked up by the employee whose contract was terminated by him on the recommendation of his director. He asked that if he was not of good character, then why the BISP chairperson appointed him as the head of the BISP in Sindh besides judging him as “outstanding” in his ACR.
After The News broke the BISP scam, the officer also sent a complaint to the honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan seeking the judiciary’s help to save him from being targeted by the regime.
He instead demanded a judicial inquiry into the matter and feared that if the SC did not take any action in this matter, he would be made to suffer endlessly for pointing out the gross irregularities and colossal loss to the national exchequer.
The officer also referred to the recent address of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to the participants of the National School of Public Policy, where he was quoted as telling the government servants not to follow the illegal order of their superiors and were encouraged to take all decisions according to their conscience and in accordance with the rules and according to the law.