LAHORE: The Ministry of Railways has once again bypassed the officers’ seniority list while sending a summary to the Establishment Division (ED) to get the prime minister’s approval for the appointment of the railways new chief executive officer (CEO) as the present incumbent, Mr Aijaz Ahmad Buriro, retires on Friday (tomorrow).

The summary containing three shortlisted names has sent a wave of resentment among senior officers.

“It is really unjust. Those entrusted with the task to uphold merit are rather flouting it. What happens when you ignore merit is clearly evident from the present state of deterioration the PR is in,” deplores an official.

The shortlisted officers are Mr Dost Ali Leghari (from the engineering department), Abdul Hameed Razi (traffic & commercial department) and Shahid Aziz (engineering department).

When Mr Buriro was selected three months ago, the ministry had forwarded names of six officers, including Abus Saeed Khan, Dost Ali Leghari, Abdul Hameed Razi, Zubair Shafi Ghauri, Muhammad Tahir and Aijaz Ahmad Buriro. However, the PM accorded approval to the appointment of Mr Buriro as the CEO.

According to the combined seniority position, Mr Abdus Saeed Khan, who will be retiring in April, is on the top of the list followed by Leghari, Kalwar, Razi, Ghauri, Ranjha, Tahir, Buriro and Aziz.

None of them, except Mr Khan, is eligible to get promotion in grade-22 (for the post CEO post) due to lack of various requirements, including minimum two years mandatory service in grade 21. But the summary moved afresh for the appointment of CEO surprisingly doesn’t carry the name of Saeed Khan.

When contacted, a spokesman for the ministry of railways says the department believes in upholding merit in such cases. “It is a matter of seniority-cum-fitness and not the seniority alone,” he said, adding seniority was not mandatory for filling executive positions.

He claimed the panel of three officers sent to the Establishment Division did include the name of Mr Leghari, Khan and Razi. He further claimed Mr Aziz was not on the panel.

Published in Dawn, January 2nd, 2020