ISLAMABAD: A group of bureaucrats finally succeeded in getting elected their choice candidate — Ms Roohi R. Khan — as chairperson of the Board of Directors of the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) amid interesting overtures to sidetrack a decision of the federal cabinet.
As such, Roohi Khan, a director on the board was declared as chair of the board even though the cabinet had declined to clear her nomination.
Documents seen by Dawn suggest the Petroleum Division, in a summary sent to the cabinet, had recommended two members — Roohi R Khan and Rizwan Ullah Khan — of the SNGPL board as ‘possible chair’.
However, a troika of bureaucrats in the Petroleum Division and Prime Minister Office wanted Ms Roohi Khan to be chairperson of the board.
Cabinet nominee Rizwan Ullah Khan tenders resignation to ‘stay away’
The federal cabinet, however, did not agree to the summary in view of opposition from Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Petroleum Nadeem Babar who reportedly preferred Rizwan for his corporate background over the banking background of Roohi Khan.
The cabinet, therefore, “approved the nomination of Rizwan Ullah Khan, as possible chair of the Board of SNGPL”. Informed sources said the troika moved behind the scenes through a network of investigation entities of the government to keep Rizwan — a former senior executive of a multinational — away from the chairmanship. Rizwan tendered resignation as member of the board.
Rizwan confirmed to Dawn that that he resigned from the directorship of SNGPL before the board meeting. “I wanted to stay out, I just wanted to stay away”, he said in a brief response when asked if he had given up under duress from any side. SAPM Nadeem Babar could not be reached on his phone.
The board meeting that had been scheduled to elect the chair on Monday was informed by a director – additional secretary petroleum — that since Rizwan had tendered resignation as member, he could not be elected as chair of the board as cleared by the cabinet. He advised the board to elect Roohi as chairperson and an ex-post facto approval would be ensured from the cabinet in one of the upcoming meetings. The board obliged.
Interestingly, the Petroleum Division had also informed the cabinet that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had opposed the nomination of Afan Aziz approved by the Prime Minister’s office as member on the board of directors of the company because of his position as the honorary consul of the Republic of Korea.
The cabinet overruled this objection and approved Aziz’s nomination for contesting the elections of the board of SNGPL on behalf of the government.
The Petroleum Division had reported to the cabinet that the SNGPL, a public sector entity, was incorporated under the Companies Act 2017 which provides that the federal government may constitute a board of directors to control, manage and direct the affairs of the company.
The government currently holds around 58 per cent of the paid up capital including indirectly through the National Investment Trust and the State Life Insurance Corporation.
The previous board had completed its statutory tenure on June 20. The bureaucracy had already managed to reduce the directors of the board from 14 to 11 by reducing the representation from private sector even though the network and financials of the company had expanded over the years.
Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2020