MULTAN: The Parks and Horticulture Authority (PHA) Multan is being run without a permanent director general (DG) for seven months, while additional charge of the post has been given to an officer under trial in a special anti-corruption court over charges of corruption.

The provincial government entrusted the additional charge on June 1 to Malik Abid Mehmood, who is simultaneously serving as the PHA DG in Dera Ghazi Khan, by relieving Multan Additional Deputy Commissioner General Qamarul Zaman Qaisrani.

The PHA DG is a cadre post, while Mr Mehmood is ex-cadre and is on deputation in violation of the directions of the Supreme Court.

Mr Mehmood, a director of floriculture in the agriculture department, was posted in Dera Ghazi Khan in January after he was sent to the Housing, Urban Development and Public Health Engineering Department on deputation.

In August 2017, when he was holding the additional charge of PHA DG in Rawalpindi, he was suspended under Punjab Employees Efficiency, Discipline and Accountability Act 2006 along with four other officers over allegations of corruption in the procurement of Astroturf for football grounds.

The case was sent to the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) on the directions of the then chief minister Shahbaz Sharif and ACE arrested Mr Mehmood, deputy directors Azizullah and Saqib Elahi, assistant director Khalid Saeed Butt, sub-engineer Shakeel Ahmad and contractor Khawar Saeed.

The incumbent Punjab government again posted Mr Mehmood as the DG in Rawalpindi in December 2018 despite him being under trial, however he was suspended in January 2019 and made an officer on special duty. He was sent back to his parent department where he remained the floriculture director from February to December 2019.

Sources said that in the meanwhile, Mr Mehmood met a close relative of an influential personality from the ruling party in Punjab and managed to get the posting as PHA DG in Dera Ghazi Khan. Through the same contacts, he later succeeded in getting the additional charge in Multan PHA that he apparently had been eyeing for some time.

They said that on July 8, the provincial government posted Saroosh Fatima Sherazi as the PHA DG; however Mr Mehmood used his influence and she was not allowed to join.

The Supreme Court in a verdict had directed the Sindh government to withdraw all the officers posted either on deputation or on transfer out of their cadre and posted to cadre posts in various department, and repatriate them to their parent departments besides restraining the government from posting any non-cadre officer against cadre posting.

Similarly, the Punjab government through a notification on Nov 13, 2013, had directed all authorities to withdraw those officers/officials from important assignments against whom judicial action had been approved or investigation reports submitted to the ACE.

Mr Mehmood claimed he had accepted the additional charge in Multan as per the wishes of CM Usman Buzdar, as the affairs were being run in a faulty manner. “However, now things are being streamlined and efforts being made to make the city more beautiful.”

He claimed that the ACE Rawalpindi had prepared his exoneration report, which will be submitted to the court as soon as possible.

Published in Dawn, September 12th, 2020

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