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President Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated former premier Benazir Bhutto, makes a speech during the fifth anniversary of his wife's death, at the Bhutto family's mausoleum in Garhi Khuda Bakhsh, Dec 27, 2012. — Photo by Reuters

ISLAMABAD, Jan 13: It is quite usual for the current Presidency to be accused of calling shots both publicly and privately, but very rare for the bureaucracy to snub its ‘concerns’.

That is what the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) did when it ignored the Presidency’s “serious concerns” over appointments in the board of the Trust for Voluntary Organisations (TVO).

According to documents made available to Dawn, Special Secretary to President Haroon Rashid has told the secretary of the EAD: “Mr Sajid Hussain Turi, the incumbent chairman of Board of Director (BoD) of TVO and owner of a fried chicken outlet, is running the organisation whimsically with disregard for administrative discipline and norms of financial propriety.”

The special secretary further noted: “The TVO funds are not being managed in a transparent, prudent and economical manner and many members of its BoD are creating their own NGOs and getting funds for themselves.”

He added: “Most of the existing members of the BoD are not renowned personalities meriting appointment on the board.”

It is pertinent to mention that TVO operates under the EAD and has board members nominated by the EAD and the federal government.

TVO is a joint project of the government of Pakistan and US government and intends to tap into the potential of the NGOs to supplement the development process in the country.

It started its work in 1992 and provides funds worth Rs500,000 for individual projects designed by NGOs.

The first few members of the TVO’s first BoDs were none other than late Nusrat Bhutto, Begum Zari Sarfraz, Abdus Sattar Edhi and Syed Babar Ali.

Documents further reveal that it is not just the alleged misappropriation of funds but rather unfair appointments in the TVO that have perturbed the Presidency.

An official at the Presidency told Dawn that they had received complaints over the appointment of a public health official as the chief executive officer of TVO.

The vacancy for CEO was announced on July 16, 2012, through national dailies, calling for candidates holding a minimum postgraduate degree or higher in social sciences. A source claimed that in the contract the TVO had hired an official holding a public health degree and refused to entertain a number of PhD-holders in social sciences.

Another official at the EAD added that the Higher Education Commission had also issued a subject list which categorised professions with respect to subjects.

The HEC has placed medicine and public health degrees in the list of biological and medical sciences subjects, and public health is not declared as part of social sciences degree.

“The EAD officials were aware that the incumbent CEO of TVO is not holding a social sciences degree and it is against the rules to entertain his application. But because of political pressure the official was hired as head of TVO,” added the official.

Despite multiple attempts, Javed Iqbal, the secretary EAD, could not be contacted for comments.