Ex-PM broke all rules for massive recruitments in Pemra
ISLAMABAD: FIA investigations show former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani as one of the major culprits involved in the country’s biggest recruitment fraud in which hundreds of children of the powerful and the mighty were illegally appointed in the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) at lucrative salaries.
The scandal was unearthed by The News. The process of illegal appointments was completed in connivance with some senior Pemra officials.Interestingly, all the major characters involved in the scandal are at large. The authority still awaits orders to cancel all these appointments though necessary evidences have been furnished with the court.
The investigations are about to make a big explosion, exposing many faces. Documents show that some others characters, including some top Pemra baboos, also played their role in making all this happen.
Investigations show that Gilani’s office bulldozed all rules and regulations to get the children of the mighty appointed.
Majority of these influential candidates not only lacked the required qualification and experience, but they also didn’t appear in the so-called written test and interview. They were just handed the appointment letters.
PPP Punjab President Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo’s daughter Ms Ayesha Virk was appointed on the orders of Yusuf Raza Gilani. She was overage and lacked the required experience and was appointed before the completion of appointment process so that some experience could be shown against her name.
The then chairman Pemra had admitted in an on-the-record statement that the then rulers had ordered him to make appointment in any case. His interview was published in The News on June 13, 2009.
Investigations show that the then prime minister wrote to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on May 15, 2009 expressing his desire that Ms. Ayesha Bilal Virk, daughter of Mian Manzoor Wattoo (and wife of PML-N MNA Bilal Ahmad Virk) be considered for appointment in Pemra as deputy general manager (equivalent to BPS-18) on contract for two years.
This letter and all subsequent letters of the Prime Minister Secretariat are available with The News. A letter sent by Ms Nargis Sethi, the then Acting Principal Secretary to the PM, carried the CV of Ms. Virk.
The CV showed that she had worked for Ameer Begum Welfare Trust (ABWT) from 2002 to 2008 without mentioning the month and date. The experience letter was signed by Ayesha Virk’s mother Mrs.
Robina Shaheen Wattoo. The Trust is a family venture.
Under the Pemra regulations, at least five-year experience is required for a Grade-17 post. According to record, Ms Virk’s experience had no relevance with the Pemra working.
The story didn’t end here. While regular appointments were yet to be made, she was appointed as deputy general manager on 25 May 2009, as desired by the prime minister, and posted in her hometown Lahore.
The then chairman Pemra wrote a letter to secretary information on 26 May 2009 informing him that the PM’s orders for appointment of Ms. Virk as deputy general manager had been fully complied with.The secretary forwarded it to the prime minister on 29 May 2009. On May 30, Ms Sethi confirmed that ‘the PM has seen the note’.
Interestingly, the post of deputy general manager was created on June 1, 2009 to accommodate Ms. Virk. All letters are part of FIA investigations. She went on leave shortly after joining the Pemra on contract.
The authority advertised regular positions for various cadres on March 3, 2009. Ms. Virk was appointed on contract basis on May 25, 2009 after an application was submitted on her behalf on March 12, 2009. She was appointed on a regular basis on October 7, 2009.
According to Pemra Employees Service Regulations 2008 the pre-requisites for the post of deputy general manager were second class or grade ‘C’ master’s degree and 5-year or above experience in a BPS-17 post (which she never had). The age limit was 30 years and Ms Virk had crossed the 30-year bar at the time of application).
The selection board recommendations also mentioned that she had less experience in a BPS-17 post and requested the then chairman to relax the condition of experience under Regulation 26(6) of the Pemra Employees Service Regulations 2008 as she had gained enough experience by working in Pemra (3-month experience).
Regulations 26(6) state: “The chairman may relax age limit or experience on initial appointment of a person having exceptional qualifications”. It is yet to be known what exceptional qualifications Ms. Ayesha Virk had apart from being the daughter of Manzoor Wattoo.
Similar communications also took place between the top government offices and Pemra for appointment of 400 illegal appointments. Cases are still pending with courts though all necessary evidences have been furnished with the courts.
Talking to The News, Mian Manzoor Wattoo said his daughter was most intelligent among all his siblings. He said Ms Ayesha Virk was selected on merit. However, when The News contacted the then chairman Pemra Mushtaq Malik, he belied Wattoo’s claim stating that Ms Ayesha Virk was appointed without advertising the post.