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Ex-brigadier finds way to stick to post

June 18, 2009

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ISLAMABAD, June 17 The Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF) management has allegedly regularised the services of a retired army officer in violation of rules enabling him to get double benefits despite the fact that he had been sacked by a former federal minister.

Well-placed sources, requesting not to be named, told Dawn that Brig (retired) Faroogh Anjum was appointed as Director Education Department in the OPF in grade-11 which is equal to BPS-20, in 2003 on contractual basis for a period of two years bypassing several suitable candidates. Later, he got his contract extended. His appointment was declared irregular by the Senate standing committee on labour, manpower and overseas Pakistanis in June 2007.

Before his last contract expired in May 2008; the retired brigadier, in connivance with the OPF bureaucracy, not only managed to get extension in the contract but also got his services regularised, said the sources.

They said in accordance with a directive of the government the OPF Board of Directors in a meeting had regularised the services of employees from grade 1-6. Taking advantage of the announcement, the retired brigadier in connivance with the OPF high-ups managed to include himself in the category of the employees whose services were regularised.

When the then Minister for Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis Syed Khursheed Shah came to know about this, he, as chairman the OPF Board of Directors, issued the termination orders of the brigadier.

However, Managing Director Nayyar Hasnain and Secretary Naheed Haider of the OPF sat on the termination file of the brigadier. In the meanwhile, the ministry of labour, manpower and overseas Pakistanis was bifurcated and Khursheed Shah was given the portfolio of labour and manpower, while the newly-created ministry of overseas Pakistanis was handed over to Dr Farooq Sattar of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

The OPF bureaucracy kept the new minister in the dark about the issue instead of relieving the official of his post. As a result, Brig Anjum is now working as director education department on a permanent basis. He will be entitled to all benefits from OPF besides getting benefits from the army as well.

When contacted, Dr Farooq Sattar said he had no knowledge of the issue and would probe the matter.

OPF Managing-Director Nayyar Hasnain admitted that the retired brigadier had been made permanent along with many other employees. He, however, contended that the brigadier had been regularised in accordance with the government announcement.

Mr Hasnain also claimed that the retired brigadier was regularised before he took charge of the OPF as managing director. However, official records showed that he was regularised when Mr Hasnain was working as MD of the foundation.

When reminded that the brigadier had been sacked by the former minister, he said he was in the know of the case. But he did not give further details.

Brig Anjum, when contacted, neither denied nor admitted that the former minister had sacked him. “Had the former minister terminated me I would not have been working here today,” he contended. He also defended his appointment and subsequent regularisation of his services. “Internal issues of ministries should not be reported in the press,” he maintained.

The secretary OPF declined to talk on the issue despite repeated calls. Several messages left with her secretary were also not responded.

An official of the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC), when asked about rules and regulations regarding appointment of retired army personnel in civilian departments, said a retired government servant can be hired only on contractual basis for a period of two years.