The quick rise of Dr Abdul Jabbar as Chairman Pemra -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

The quick rise of Dr Abdul Jabbar as Chairman Pemra

Abdul Sattar Khan

LAHORE: Several out of turn service related benefits have ultimately helped Dr Abdul Jabbar, the acting Chairman Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) to become final authority in Pemra. This must have established a unique record to complete his hurricane journey from grade 19 to 20 and then to grade 21 in just seven months.

This has now placed Dr Abdul Jabbar in a comfortable position where he is least bothered to follow the rules and instead is busy deciding the fate of electronic channels of the country of his sweet will or in line with the directions of the rulers of the day.

Since his joining the Pemra way back in 2005 till to date, Dr Abdul Jabbar appears to have been indispensable for Pemra as he kept on moving from one important slot to another without any hindrance. Dr Jabbar’s upward movement in Pemra has been made possible only by bulldozing one after another set of established norms.

Dr Jabbar was serving in Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) as Director (International Liaison) in BPS-19 when in April 2005 his services were requisitioned by Pemra on deputation for a period of three years. The first favour, which he got after landing in Pemra, was that despite holding a non-technical post in PTA, he was posted as Acting Director General (Technical). Moreover, despite being still in grade 19 Dr Jabbar was allowed to hold a position which was equivalent to grade 20.

In January 2008, while Dr Jabbar was still on deputation with Pemra, he was promoted by his parent department i.e. PTA as Director General equivalent to BPS 20. Within a few days, on January 24, 2008 Pemra prematurely repatriated him back to PTA merely to let him avail and actualize his promotion.

Later within days of his promotion and taking charge as Director General in PTA and while he was yet to be assigned a portfolio apparently for lack of any vacancy in PTA, Dr Abdul Jabbar’s services were once again requisitioned by Pemra on deputation on 31st January 2008. Upon rejoining Pemera on 1st February 2008, he was posted as Director General (Technical) Pemra on the very next day on 2nd February 2008.Just after two days of his rejoining Pemra on 4th February 2008 Dr Jabbar applied for permanent absorption in Pemra as Director General (BPS 20).

Then again within two days of his application for permanent absorption a committee was hurriedly constituted on 6th February 2008 by the then Chairman Pemra Iftikhar Rashid to consider Dr Jabbar’s permanent absorption in Pemra.

The haste with which these arrangements were being made is self-explanatory as the committee which was formed for the purpose to consider Dr Jabbar’s permanent absorption in Pemra, comprised of those officials who were much junior and were in Pemra either on deputation or on contractual appointment.

This committee was so keen to recommend permanent absorption of Dr Jabbar that it recommended on the very day of its composition on 6th February 2008 his absorption in Pemra. Similar amount of haste was shown by the then Chairman Pemra Iftikhar Rashid, who also took no time in approving the permanent absorption of Dr Jabbar on the very next day on February 7, 2008.

As per the revised delegation of Administrative and Financial Powers – 2006, certain specific powers are delegated to the Chairman Pemra under section 13 of the Pemra Ordinance 2002. These delegated powers, however, do not include the power to approve the absorption of a deputationist in Pemra as, in fact, no such power has been delegated to anyone else by the authority. As such, all cases of absorption of persons working on deputation in Pemra must have been approved by Pemra as an authority since the said powers did not stand delegated to any individual even if this individual was the chairman of Pemra.

Dr Jabbar’s application for permanent absorption therefore should have been placed before the authority for consideration and subsequent approval of his absorption in Pemra. Similarly, the committee, which recommended Dr Jabbar’s application for permanent absorption, was composed of those officers of Pemra who were posted on much junior posts either in grade 18 or 19 and were assigned the task of considering the absorption case of a much senior post i.e. director general which is equivalent to grade 20 post.

This 3-member committee comprised of Brig (R) Shakeel Ahmed, Head CTV (BPS-19) as chairman of the committee with two other members including Zulfiqar Ali Chaudhry, General Manager (BPS-18) and Mrs Tahsina Jehan Acting General Manager (Licencing) (BPS-18).

Brig Shakeel Ahmed, who was appointed on contract basis as a consultant, has no experience of administrative matters or any other civil department of the government. Similarly, Zufliqar Ali Ch, a member of the committee, was himself a deputationist from FBR and joined Pemra just two months before the case of Dr Jabbar’s absorption was referred to this committee. Mrs Tehsina Jehan, another member of the committee, was also a deputationist from PTDC.

In such a situation the entire process lacked transparency and credibility which in turn made the recommendations of the committee more and more dubious.

Moreover, as per practice in Pemra, an Executive Member of the authority is the convener of the committee for appointments against posts equivalent to BPS-11 to BPS-17. However, in the case of Dr Jabbar, although an Executive – Member and Director General (Admn) was very much available, he was not made even a member of the committee, let alone the convener.

It is pertinent to state that prior to appointment of Dr Jabbar against the post of Director General (Technical), there were only three sanctioned/notified posts of Director General in grade 20 which includes Director General Administration, Director General Enforcement South and Director General North. This way Dr Jabbar was appointed against a post which was not a sanctioned post at the time of the appointment of Dr Jabbar.

Then again after serving for hardly few months in grade 20 as a Director General (Technical), Dr Jabbar was appointed Executive Member of Pemra on acting charge basis. However, within a month, Dr Jabbar was not only appointed as Executive Member on permanent basis on October 9th 2008 but was also promoted to grade 21, thus completing his journey from grade 19 to 20 and then to 21 in just seven months. Despite the best effort of this correspondent, Dr Abdul Jabbar was not available for his comment, as even The News has mailed him its queries on his email address but without any success.

On being contacted the former Chairman Pemra Iftikhar Rashid regretted that he could not recall what actually happened during the course of Dr Jabbar’s absorption in Pemra and other related issues. “Since I am out of job how can I exactly recall such issues to be discussed in minute details as I require a few days to keep my self update with all those issue in which you are interested,” he said.

Likewise the chairman of the committee namely Brig (R) Shakeel Ahmed and the member of the committee, which recommended Dr Jabbar’s absorption in Pemra, did not attend the repeated calls of The News despite dropping text messages on their cell numbers.
Source: The News