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ISLAMABAD: The government has lowered the standard for the top post of an authority that was established to ensure quality and standardisation of locally manufactured products.

The establishment division has asked the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) to move a summary of three BS-20 officers for a BS-21 post of director general of the Pakistan Standard and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA). However, the names were not placed before the selection board.

The post fell vacant after the transfer of Abdul Aleem Memon.

The PSQCA is an autonomous body subordinate to the MoST. Its main objective is to regulate and enforce quality standards in the country. Anything that is certified by the PSQCA is issued the Pakistan Standards label.

Established in 1996, the PSQCA provides one-window service for standardisation and conformity assessment.

On June 12, 2014, a notification issued by the MoST constituted a selection board for making “appointments of chief executive officers/heads of the autonomous/semi-autonomous bodies/organisations under the administrative control of MoST”.

The selection board comprises the science and technology minister, federal secretary, joint administration secretary, joint technological adviser, deputy secretary and joint secretary of career planning wing of the establishment division.

However, at present, the science and technology ministry has been without a head since the resignation of Azam Khan Swati who is facing a suo motu case in the Supreme Court over accusation that he had influenced the transfer of former Islamabad inspector general Jan Mohammad.

The police officer’s transfer took place after Mr Swati’s son had registered a case against a family of slum dwellers for allegedly trespassing on his family’s land. Five people, including two women, were arrested for trespassing on the land and beating up Mr Swati’s guards. They were released after a day’s detention.

Sources in the establishment division told Dawn that the directives to include the names of joint secretaries Aijaz Talpur, Khalid Memon and Ramzan Awan had come from higher authorities. These bureaucrats are of BS-20 while the seat is of BS-21 and no selection procedure was adopted.

The sources said that the selection board was constituted to make the appointment process for the top post transparent.

The Supreme Court had in various judgements made it mandatory for all public service appointments to be filled through a competitive process, the sources added.

However, MoST additional secretary Qaiser Majeed Malik said that in the past as well appointments in the PSQCA had been made without any competitive process. He said the officers being considered for the post were bureaucrats and one of them would be appointed to head the authority for a specific period.

“The ministry will forward a summary comprising a panel of three officers to the establishment division for onward submission to the prime minister and it is the PM who would select the best candidate for this position,” he added.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2019