Uncertainty surrounds future of 300 Fata secretariat employees

Updated October 17, 2019

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Following the taking over of various wings and sections of the defunct Fata secretariat by various government departments during the last six months, around 300 employees of the secretariat are facing uncertain future due to a delay in their absorption in provincial cadres, official said. — Reuters/File
Following the taking over of various wings and sections of the defunct Fata secretariat by various government departments during the last six months, around 300 employees of the secretariat are facing uncertain future due to a delay in their absorption in provincial cadres, official said. — Reuters/File

PESHAWAR: Following the taking over of various wings and sections of the defunct Fata secretariat by various government departments during the last six months, around 300 employees of the secretariat are facing uncertain future due to a delay in their absorption in provincial cadres, official said.

The once bustling secretariat is now a shadow of its former self with its officialdom no more calling the shots on matters concerning millions of people spread over vast swathes of territory from Bajaur in the north to Waziristan in the south.

Now, its corridors are mostly deserted, while employees lack energy and talk in anxious tones about their future following the transfer of powers to the civil secretariat.

Officials blame it on delay in staff absorption in provincial cadres

The Fata secretariat itself was a product of experimentation in the administration of the erstwhile tribal belt.

The same thing also shaped the status of its employees and now to a greater extent responsible for their plight as the institution set up to manage the region is being dismantled and merged with the administrative machinery of the province.

Officials said currently, more than 200 employees of the defunct Fata Development Corporation, 117 directly recruited by the secretariat over the years and seven of the finance and planning cell faced uncertain future in the midst of merger upheaval.

However, the establishment department denied uncertainty about the future of employees.

“All issues of the Fata secretariat’s employees have been resolved and they have been adjusted,” claimed establishment secretary Syed Jamaluddin Shah.

The details available with Dawn show that the defunct secretariat directly recruited 117 officials over the years for positions from BPS-1 to BPS-16 in various sections.

Following Fata-KP merger, those employees were placed in a surplus pool, while their services were placed at the disposal of the districts of their domiciles in July this year.

“These officials haven’t got salary since July. They also don’t have any place to sit and vacancies in districts to be adjusted against,” an official said.

The other category is that of the officials of the finance and planning wing of the defunct secretariat.

These employees in BPS-16, 17 and 18 were hired on a contractual basis in 2004, while their services were regularised in 2011.

Under a court order, the provincial government decided to merger those employees in the Provincial Planning Service (PPS). On Jan 8, 2019, the finance and planning cell was placed under the administrative control of the planning and development department.

In Feb this year, the P&D department moved a summary for the absorption of eight of 15 officials from the F&P cell to the PPS.

It said the PPS cadre had been set up for planning personnel and only those positions of planning cells of administrative departments had been placed in the PPS cadre.

Regarding the agency finance officers, the summary said since those positions were finance related, they could be inducted into the treasury wing of the finance department.

Another official said the establishment department took over the F&P posts in tribal districts and declared them executive posts and had posted PMS officers to them to the misery of those working on them.

Of the Fata Development Corporation employees, 47 have been placed at the disposal of the home and tribal affairs, while the rest are mostly working in the irrigation department.

The defunct secretariat’s employees alleged that another major hurdle to their speedy integration was the presence of strong unions in the civil secretariat, which resisted those coming in from Fata.

A senior official said the establishment department took over 50 officer posts of the defunct secretariat and declared them scheduled posts and even promoted PMS officers to them, while those actually working on those posts had nowhere to go.

Regarding the F&P officials, the establishment secretary claimed that eight of them had already been absorbed in the PPS, while the rest had to be part of the treasury or local fund audit section of the finance department.

Mr Shah also insisted that said a summary had been approved to merge the remaining seven officials with the relevant local fund audit.

He said 117 officials were being adjusted in districts and a summary to create posts for them there had been approved.

The secretary said in some districts, posts had been created, while in others, the creation of such posts was under way.

“Their salary issue would be resolved within a week,” he said.

Mr Shah said of the FDC employees, 47 had been adjusted in a cell working under the home department.

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2019