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ISLAMABAD: Against the backdrop of the Supreme Court’s initiative for building Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand dams, the Pakistan Eng­ineering Council (PEC) approached the top court on Wednesday for the appointment of qualified engineers to the senior management positions in government departments.

A petition moved by PEC chairman Eng Jawed Salim Qureshi through senior counsel Dr Tariq Hassan lists the government divisions as communications, power, housing and works, railways and water resources, aviation, defence production, industries and production, information and broadcasting, information technology and telecommunications, maritime affairs, petroleum and science and technology.

The petition asked the government to utilise the services of the PEC in all engineering projects of national importance like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and dams such as Diamer-Bhasha and Mohmand to enable the engineering profession to perform its statutory function of being a key driving force for achieving rapid and sustainable growth in all national, economic and social fields as mandated by the PEC Act.

Council wants govt to utilise its services in all major projects like CPEC, dams

The PEC — an elected representative of over 240,000 registered engineers — requested the apex court to order the establishment secretary to conduct a review of job descriptions of all other posts in the service of federal government and ensure appointment of qualified engineers to all such posts which required substantial engagement in professional engineering works.

PEC also drew the attention of the court to the stunning fact that apart from the railways division, there was simply no engineer serving in a grade-22 post and only one engineer was serving in a grade-21 post in the entire federal government. This is despite the fact that, according to rules of business, about five divisions of the federal government carry out purely engineering-related business (housing, water resources, power, communications and railways) and another eight divisions carry out a substantial amount of engineering business.

While all of these government divisions employ a large number of engineers at the junior level, senior management positions in these divisions have been taken by the bureaucrats from the Pakistan Administrator Service group.

“These are generalists who cultivate close ties with political masters but lack the expertise required for the tasks assigned to them,” the petition regretted, adding that the bad governance structure, which denigrated technocrats and elevated bureaucrats, was one of the main reasons why Pakistan was failing to resolve its persistent water crisis, energy shortage, housing shortage and numerous other problems.

To remedy the situation, the PEC said, the apex court should issue a directive to the government for the creation of a distinct occupational group for engineers on a par with the existing occupational groups like the PAS, previously known as District Management Group (DMG).

Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2018