LAHORE: A female Pakistan Railways (PR) officer has accused the top authorities of the department of denying her promotion to grade 20 and victimising her by transferring her to Sukkur, where she has been placed under her junior.

“Before my appointment at the PR’s Walton Training Academy, I didn’t know who is who,” says Fatima Bilal, a grade-19 officer of the CSS’s 30th Common Training Programme (CTP).

“This is the institution where someone can assess the competence and ability of the officers. After reviewing the facts, I came to know that many PR officers, including the top one sitting in the Ministry of Railways, have yet to pass the Specialised Training Programme — a significant test which is mandatory for officers to clear after the CTP. When you have not cleared the STP, you cannot get promotions under the law. So, how have they (the senior officers) succeeded in obtaining senior positions?”

Regarding the increasing ratio of train accidents, she also cited favouritism in the department as a major reason behind the most critical issue which is causing deaths of passengers and crew members in frequent accidents.

Sees favouritism behind increasing accidents

“In the PR, 35 percent of fatal and non-fatal accidents are due to human error. Why is this human error repeated again and again? The answer is simple: when seniors have failed to clear the STP, how can they make their juniors technically and professionally sound? The result is: they will make mistakes, leading to the deaths of innocent people,” she claimed.

In a letter to PR Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Shahid Aziz, Ms Bilal protested her transfer to Sukkar and being placed under the subordination of her junior. She terms this act punishment for challenging the seniority of officers.

“Your kind attention is drawn towards the Federal Service Tribunal orders of July 4, 2023, and earlier. The posting orders are in violation of the court directives as well as the rules of business in terms of seniority position. As per the rules of business, a senior cannot be posted to work as a subordinate to an officer junior to him/her. The DS (Sukkar) is the officer who is five steps junior to me,” reads the letter. “Therefore, the posting orders may please be withdrawn.”

She said that since more than 40 officers did not clear the STP, they should not have been promoted.She said that before transferring her to Sukkur, the authorities left no stone unturned to harass her through various inquiries. Once she was exonerated, officers reopened these inquiries just to pressure her.

“When they made me very uncomfortable, I had no option but to challenge the authorities with certain evidence,” she said, demanding that the Prime Minister and Railways Minister intervene and investigate such matters.

The PR chairman and the CEO were not available for comment despite repeated attempts.

Published in Dawn, August 21st, 2023

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