ISLAMABAD: A Senate panel on Thursday expressed concern over the appointment of Pakistan Television Chairman Attaul Haq Qasmi as the corporation’s managing director as well.

The Senate Standing Committee on Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage was displeased by what many committee members believed to be an “illegal appointment”.

PPP senators Farhatullah Babar and Rubina Khalid criticised the government for appointment Me Qasmi to the purely administrative post of managing director.

“The PTV chairman, through the PTV board, nominated himself as MD. This has happened and this is alarming,” Mr Babar said. He added that it was the same as if parliament passed a resolution saying the government should have a 10-year tenure.

Regularisation of contractual employees in APP’s Balochi news service also taken up

“How did the board decide to appoint the chairman as managing director,” he asked.

State Minister for Information Marriyum Aurangzeb told the committee that the PTV board passed a resolution appointing Mr Qasmi to the post for the time being. When asked, the minister said her ministry was not taken on board when the PTV board made the decision.

“The appointment took place some days ago, but the Ministry of Information was not apprised by the PTV of this development. We are looking into the issue,” Ms Aurangzeb said.

She said if any wrongdoing had been committed, the ministry would undo the board’s decision and the information federal secretary would be given additional charge as PTV MD until a full-time managing director is appointment.

The minister said the process to appoint a regular managing director is going to be initiated.

The committee also discussed the matter of employees of the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan (APP). Two years ago, the wire service recruited employees in Balochistan for its Balochi news service, Senator Dr Jehanzaib Jamaldini said.

The journalists’ services were not regularised by APP, despite approval from the finance ministry, Dr Jamaldini said.

“Apparently, when Senate took up the issue of [the employees’] regularisation, the APP management transferred all these journalists from Quetta to Islamabad as a reprisal,” he said, adding that an inquiry should be held in this matter against the APP managing director.

Committee chairman Senator Kamil Ali Agha and other members also expressed concern over the matter, but APP Managing Director Masood Malik defended the agency’s decision.

He said the employees were contractually engaged for the Islamabad office, and were called back from other stations to Islamabad for better news coverage in the Balochi language.

He said the aforementioned employees would be given priority in the upcoming regular recruitment process.

However, Mr Jamaldini asked why APP had recently advertised the posts in newspapers if it intended to regularise the services of these employees.

“Placing advertisements is a legal requirement. Let me assure you, we will give priority to the contractual employees in question,” Mr Malik said.

Newly-appointed federal information secretary Sardar Ahmed Nawaz Sukhera assured the committee he would look into the matter personally and there would no discrimination against Baloch journalists.

The committee also took up the matter of Lok Virsa employees, and the information secretary told the committee the resolution of legitimate issues of Lok Virsa employees would be prioritised.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2017