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ISLAMABAD: The sacked officials of the Safe City Project were on Tuesday requested by Nadra officials not to approach the courts or hold a press conference about their dismissal, sources in Nadra and some of the officials said.

The Safe City Project is a joint operation by Nadra and the police. It is a technology-based system for the security of the federal capital. Under the project, CCTV cameras would be installed at every roundabout and street corner along with the establishment of a Rapid Response Force which would reach a particular place in three minutes.

Security chips were also to be installed in vehicles to keep track of their whereabouts and the police were to be provided funds to form an intelligence network.

Last week, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan during a news conference announced the sacking of 37 officials of the project, including a son of the inspector general of police (IGP). The minister said the officials had been hired illegally. Project manager Shahid Hamid was also removed by the minister and held responsible for the illegal appointments.

Safe City Project employees say they are hopeful of reinstatement by Monday

Talking to Dawn, however, some of the sacked officials rejected the minister’s allegations and said they had been appointed to the posts advertised in newspapers after completing the required process, including interviews.

They said they were terminated from service to justify the sacking of the son of IGP with whom the minster had strained relations. One official said, “Had the IGP’s son alone been shown the door, it would have made a problem and tarnish the image of the minister. That is why he fired all of us.”

One of the removed staff, Abdul Hassan, told Dawn: “Calling our appointments illegal is unjust. We were planning to go to the courts to appeal against our removal. And we were also planning to hold a press conference today (Tuesday).”

Mr Hassan said senior officials of Nadra, including the head of Safe City Project Dr Tahir, asked the sacked officials to keep quiet and not to do anything till Monday. The sacked staff was told that an explanation about the appointments had been sent to the interior minister.

He said: “We have been a hope that we will be reinstated by coming Monday,” adding the option to approach the court was still open.

Mr Hassan and his colleague Mohammad Iqbal said the posts were advertised in the national newspapers in July. They said the ad sought applicants for the posts of administrators, call agents and supervisors. The applicants were asked to send their applications via emails or through the post offices.

They said they received their interview calls by late July and the interviews were held on August 4, 5 and 6. Four officials, including human rights director Zulfiqar Ahmed and the project manager interviewed 200 candidates short listed from a total of 30,000 applicants.

They said the 37 selected candidates were issued appointment letters who joined duty on August 10 on a one-year’s contract. They said the salary for a calling agent’s job was fixed at Rs35,000 per month which was to be paid by Huawei, the executor of the project.

They said after their appointment, they were trained by the police. After completion of the police training, they were to be trained to operate and handle the project.

On condition of anonymity, another sacked staff said, “We are all, including the IGP’s son, overqualified for the job. Most of us have a good educational background and have studied in prestigious academic institutes.”

Another official said: “We are from the middle or lower class families and were appointed without any personal recommendations or use of influence.”

The IGP’s son was previously working at the Senate Secretariat from where he resigned to join the Safe City Project. The sacked staff said the IGP’s son too had been appointed after fulfilling all the necessary formalities.

The sacked project manager, Shahid Hamid, refused to comment on the matter, saying, “I am sorry, I am not authorised to talk to the media.”

When the head of the media department at Nadra, Samad Khurram, was asked to comment on the claim that Nadra had sought some time and asked the sacked officials not to take any action until Monday, he neither denied nor confirmed it.

Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2015

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