ISLAMABAD, Feb 20: In a rare move, the presidency has appointed secretary defence and cabinet division Nargis Sethi as the administrator of the elite Islamabad Club, Dawn has learnt reliably.

According a senior presidency official, the yet another additional charge was given to Ms Sethi after the expiry of the tenure of Mehmood Saleem Mehmood, a close confidant of the president. Mr Mehmood had been running the show after the departure of Tariq Aziz with the resignation of former president Pervez Musharraf in 2008. Mr Aziz, who was also the secretary general to the then president, was the longest serving administrator of the club. It may be mentioned that the president is the patron of the club and the administrator is appointed on his advice.

Though Mr Mehmood had retired in 2010 but he kept the post in violation of the club’s rules due to his close association with Tariq Aziz and President Zardari. According to the rules, “The federal government shall appoint an officer of the government drawing pay in a grade not lower than 21 as the administrator of the Islamabad Club in addition to his duties.”

Ms Sethi’s appointment, the official added, came after Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s office directed the secretary Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) to immediately issue a notification in this regard.

Two other federal secretaries were in the run for the position: Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Khushnood Akhtar Lashari and Secretary CADD Imtiaz Inayat Elahi, a senior official of the prime minister secretariat said.

“Mr Elahi’s name was refused by the president and the prime minister offices since he had been involved in a few strict decisions relating to the administrative affairs of CADD,” said another official close to the development.

The official said Mr Elahi was also involved in refusing a few orders of the office of the prime minister when he was asked to transfer some health officials in the hospitals working under his administrative control.

When contacted, Mr Elahi refused to comment on the development. “I have no comments to make on the matter since it is an official engagement.”

Regarding Mr Lashari, the official said: “He was a key consideration; however, on the intervention of the prime minister the office of the president honoured Ms Sethi’s appointment as the administrator of Islamabad Club.”

Meanwhile, a senior official of CADD confirmed that Ms Sethi had been appointed as the administrator of the club.

“The Polo Club is still in limbo and there are a number of other issues, specifically the conflict between the Golf Club and the main club management,” said one club member wishing not be named.

Meanwhile, Ms Sethi and Mr Lashari were not available despite repeated attempts to get their versions on the move.

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