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Minister orders probe into NTS affairs

Updated November 30, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: Newly appointed federal Minister for Science and Technology Rana Tanveer Hussain, following corruption allegations levelled by the minister of state of the same ministry, has taken notice of alleged corruption in the National Testing Service (NTS).

“Federal Minister for Science and Technology having assumed the charge of his portfolio has taken serious notice of the alleged corruption allegations levelled against the NTS authorities,” read an official statement issued by the ministry on Wednesday.

On Monday minister of state for science and technology Mir Dostain Khan Domki tendered his resignation, saying that a time when he had launched a probe into corruption scandals in the ministry, including the NTS, all of sudden a federal minister [Rana Tanveer] was given charge of his ministry “just to stop his struggle against corruption”.

The resignation is yet to be accepted or rejected by the prime minister.

Move comes after minister of state resigns over appointment of Rana Tanveer

The brief press release stated that the federal minister had directed the rector of Comsats to probe into the matter and submit complete record on the matter. “Furthermore, the minister warned that strict action would be taken against those who are found involved in corruption or irregularity,” the statement said.

Before becoming minister for defence production, Rana Tanveer served as minister for science and technology. Now, once again he has been appointed minister for science and technology with additional charge of minister for defence production.

However, the government move perturbed Mir Domki who cast doubts on the appointment and tendered his resignation saying that he was pursuing three mega corruption cases.

“On receipt of a number of complaints from public representatives as well as general public of corruption, mismanagement in the Ministry of Science and Technology discreet enquiry/investigation was ordered specially against the NTS, Comsats and Pakistan Standards & Quality Control Authority [PSQCA],” the resignation letter says.

In the letter, the minister of state said that he was probing corruption and money laundering in the NTS, mismanagement and corruption in Comsats Institute of Information Technology and irregular appointment of director general of the PSQCA.

“It shocked me that a full-fledged minister was given the portfolio of my ministry just to stop my struggle against corruption,” Mr Domki said in his resignation letter.

Talking to Dawn, he said: “Days after my action of forming a three-member committee to probe into the NTS affairs, a new minister was appointed through a late night notification. Why?” He added that he smelt something fishy behind this move.

Talking about alleged corruption in the NTS, he said that there was no audit of the NTS and there were reports of corruption of billions of rupees in this organisation. He said that some officials were working there for more than one decade. “There is big mafia in NTS,” he said.

The NTS was launched as a project of Comsats, a subsidiary of ministry of science and technology, during the Musharraf era as non-profit organisation registered with the Security Exchange Commission of Pakistan.

The NAB is also probing into the affairs of the NTS which conducts tests for admission to educational institutions and appointments in government organisations.

A month ago, the chairman of the NAB ordered its Rawalpindi branch’s director general to conduct an inquiry after he received several complaints against the NTS. The complaints included leaking of question papers, alleged corrupt practices and failure to protect interests of students.

The Rawalpindi NAB has also been assigned to probe those responsible for allowing the NTS to conduct different examinations despite the presence of provincial and federal public service commissions. They have also been assigned to examine reasons for the body’s failure to devise a foolproof, transparent and merit-based examination system.

Published in Dawn, November 30th, 2017