ISLAMABAD: The centre has directed all federal secretaries, heads of autonomous institutions and provincial governments to scrutinise moral integrity and personal conduct of officers before their selection for training and research abroad.
The step has been taken to avoid damage to diplomatic relations with countries and national embarrassment abroad following adverse reputation earned by government officers in recent past.
“At times lapses have been observed on part of the participants, which have created a bad taste in cordial relations between Pakistan and the host country,” said a notification recently issued by the government. “Ministries, divisions and departments are, therefore, requested to take a serious note of the issue and…be more diligent in this regard.”
The directive has been sent to more than 29 federal secretaries, the Federal Board of Revenue, the Higher Education Commission, the State Bank, administrative heads of the President House and Prime Minister’s Office and chief secretaries of the four provinces and Azad Kashmir, Fata and Gilgit-Baltistan.
They have been asked to forward the directive to their attached departments and agencies for strict observance of the criteria.
The directive issued by the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) highlighted a recent incident in which “one of the officers on a training course indulged in sexual harassment with a lady interpreter.
The host country took a serious view of the issue and expelled the officer from the course, which was very embarrassing for the country and tarnished its image worldwide”.
It is, therefore, directed that while recommending officers and officials for training abroad, moral integrity and conduct of the nominees should also be taken into consideration to avoid such unpleasant incidents in future.
The EAD is the focal department for capacity building and technical assistance and coordinates with countries and organisations, including multilateral aid agencies, for foreign trainings, workshops, seminars, etc.
Observance of discipline of training institutions as well as moral values and ethics is one of the prerequisites for such official visits abroad. But in most cases nominations and selections are not made purely on the basis of professional requirement or merit, least on the basis of moral integrity.
Informed sources said the officer expelled by a friendly country was in a senior grade and nominated because of his powerful links with bureaucracy. Despite recommendations by the EAD and the Foreign Office, no action has been taken against the officer so far.
Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2014