PEMRA disfigured by ‘look-after’ bureaucrats on all posts
By: Ansar Abbasi
ISLAMABAD: The Pemra, the regulatory body for the electronic media, has been badly ruined during the recent years after having been turned into an entity ruled by a bunch of temporary officers, all of whom terribly failed to do their primary job of a regulator.
Although, the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Thursday removed the authority’s never notified “acting chairman” Dr Abdul Jabbar, the top military leadership had already recently approached the government at the highest level to get Jabbar sacked after Pemra’s failure to check anti-Pakistan illegal channels and their unlawful contents.
Jabbar was shown the door on Thursday after the Supreme Court was told by senior journalist Hamid Mir that he was not even the “acting chairman” but has been officiating as a temporary head of the body on “look-after charge” basis for the last two years, thus, seriously compromising the very responsibility and independence of the state institution.
Such has been the sorry state of affairs in Pemra under Dr Jabbar that besides all eight regional general managers, most of its leading executives at the authority’s headquarter were also officiating on “look-after charge” basis like their “look-after chairman”.
The Supreme Court was also provided with a list of officers holding more than one position or officiating on look-after charge basis, mostly because of their closeness to the outgoing long-drawn otherwise stop-gap chairman.
During the recent years and owing to the complete failure of Pemra to act as the regulator, there have been growing complaints against the unchecked illegal foreign channels, increasing vulgarity and airing of programmes against the state institutions, including the judiciary and Pakistan Army.
The worsening situation in Pemra could be assessed from the following facts. Dr Abdul Jabbar was not only acting as the chairman of the body but was also officiating as the authority’s executive member, director general (technical) and director general human resource.
When the boss was holding quite a few positions, the juniors followed suit. For example, Ashfaq Jumani is DG finance as well as DG policy and similarly Sardar Arfan Ashraf Khan is DG licensing as well as DG Administration. One, Muhammad Farooq, is holding five posts, including DG operations, DG monitoring, Regional GM Islamabad, RGM Mirpur Khas/AJK and RGM Gilgit-Baltistan.
Sohail Arif Ali Khan is secretary to the authority and has till recently also held the post of GM Administration. Other GM in the Pemra Wakeel Khan is holding the posts GM Technical, GH Human Resource and GM Information Technology. One Nasir Ayaz is GM Legal on look-after basis.
The juniors, who are serving as General Managers on look-after charge basis including Ikram Barkat, GM Finance; Muhammad Tahir, GM Operations; Khurram Siddiqui, GM Administration; Umar Waqas, GM CTV; Fakharuddin Mughal, GM to executive member and GM Media; and Mrs Zeba Tabbassam, GM internal audit.
The story of regional GMs is also interesting as they all are officiating on look-after charge basis. They include Younis Ali Mughal, who is RGM Lahore as well as RGM Multan; Ashfaq Ahmed Jumani, RGM Sindh; Abdul Jalal Kakar, RGM Balochistan; Amjad Ali Afridi, RGM KP; and lucky Muhammad Farooq is RGM Islamabad, RGM Mirpur/AJK and RGM Gilgit Baltistan besides serving at the positions of DG Operations and DG Monitoring at the Pemra’s headquarter.
Some other GMs were appointed in BS-19 equivalent jobs in the Pemra while they were just BS-17 officers in their previous departments. In view of this administrative chaos, according to sources, the new chairman Pemra would be required to go for an overhaul surgery of the authority to make it a successful regulator instead of an official body that has been promoting illegalities, vulgarity, abuses against judiciary and judges, etc.
History is witness that the government, when they have their own axe to grind, assigns top positions to junior officials on acting or look-after basis and that too often on verbal orders. Such temporary slot-holders seldom resist illegal or irregular orders from their masters.