FIA finds huge forgery in Pemra appointments
ISLAMABAD: During its initial probe, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has found massive irregularities in the appointment of dozens of senior officers in Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra).
According to sources, the forensic experts have confirmed tempering of answer sheets of “successful” influential candidates, several of whom are relatives of former cabinet members and parliamentarians.
Last week FIA had arrested former Pemra Chairman Dr Abdul Jabbar and three other officers over hundreds of illegal appointments in the Authority in 2009-10 during the former PPP regime. Sources said the suspects were initially interrogated for hiring 56 Assistant General Managers (AGMs) in Pemra against 18 advertised posts for personal gains.
The probe revealed that 3134 applications were received for the 18 posts. It revealed that applications accepted even after the cut-off date. The shortlisted candidates were called for the written tests on 30.12.2009 in which 674 candidates appeared.
Afterwards, a Departmental Selection Committee (DSC) comprising Dr. Abdul Jabbar, EM, Shehzad Nawaz Cheema, DG (HR&P), Sardar Arfan Ashraf, DG (Admn), Safdar Rehman, GM (HR), Ashfaq Ahmad Jumani, RGM (KHI), Zulfiqar Chaudhary, RGM (LHR) and Muhammad Farooq, RGM (IBD) was constituted vide clause 18 of Service Regulations, 2008 for appointment against the post of AGM.
According to investigations of the agency, the “successful” candidates were issued offer letters on 22 July 2010 but the same was challenged in the court by other candidates who were not hired despite being shortlisted. Upon learning about the court challenge, the higher ups of Pemra convened an emergency meeting and decided to re-mark the answer-sheets of the blue-eyed “successful” candidates.
The FIA took the possession of the answer-sheets and got them examined by the forensic experts who confirmed that the same were tempered with to increase the marks of the candidates.
Some candidates who had not completed the required qualification on cut-off date or even not attended the written test were recommended and selected by DSC and the chairman. The DSC under the patronage of the then chairman Pemra Mushtaq Malik had selected candidates recommended by politicians or higher officers instead of making selection on merit.
Sources said two members of DSC Sardar Irfan and Safdar Rehman have now told the FIA that they were on foreign tours when the supposed DSC meeting took place on 22 July 2010. They said they signed the minutes of the meeting after returning to the country on the pressure of their higher-ups.
According to sources, the candidates whose appointments are being probed include Mohsin Hameed Dogar, son of PCO judge Justice (R) Abdul Hamid Dogar, Marriam Badar daughter of Jehangir Badar, Jehanzeb Khanzada son-in-law of PML-N female parliamentarian Sherin Arshad Khan, Ali Zeeshan Haider, nephew of former PAC Chairman Nadeem Afzal Chan and dozens of others who were recommended by top politicians.
When contacted, for FIA’s official version, the Authority’s Additional Director Corporate Crimes Hazrat Ali said the investigations have proven that most of these Pemra appointments were made in violation of rules and merit.
He said the authority has taken possession of the record that indicates irregularities in the hiring process.Hazrat Ali said the Islamabad High Court (IHC) has suspended the FIA’s first investigation report (FIR) to the extent of the appointees but the authority will present its position during next hearing and seek permissions from the court to proceed against those hired illegally.
Explaining Pemra’s position on the issue, a spokesman of the authority Fakhruddin Mughal said the regulatory body is neutral in this matter.“We are waiting for the FIA probe and no comments could be made until the investigations into the matter are completed,” said the spokesman.
He said the authority would respect the decision of Islamabad High Court (IHC) in this regard.While asked about the version of the detained accused, the spokesman said all the accused are of the view that they are not involved in any wrongdoing.
“The accused are of the view that the appointments were made on merit,” he said.Talking to The News, ex-Chairman Pemra Mushtaq Malik said no irregularities took place while hiring officials in the authority during his tenure.
When asked how 56 people were hired on 18 advertised posts, Malik said he was competent to increase or decrease the number of vacancies.He added that the government had directed him to increase the number of posts to cater to the growing needs of regulations.
“Under clause 5 of Pemra Ordinance, the government can issue policy directions and the same were issued to expand the outreach of Pemra across the country,” he said.Malik Mushtaq said all the members of DSC including those who have been arrested, were responsible officers of Pemra and they have done their job in accordance with rules.