Arbitrary governance: In granting service extensions, government undermines rules

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Gilani, using his discretionary powers, granted extensions to some two dozen powerful public office holders, terming the move ‘a pioneering step towards good governance.’

However, the swiftness of extension to heads of key departments raises several questions, the key being if such a move lies within the existing rules or is a manifestation of ‘discretionary’ powers.

Under the Civil Establishment Code that defines rules for civil servants, the head of the government is advised not
to initiate cases of re-employment beyond the civil servants’ age of superannuation.

However, the prime minister has granted extensions to Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Director-General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt-General Ahmad Shuja Pasha last year, in a bid to sustain the momentum in the ongoing war against terrorism. Director-General of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Wasim Ahmad got a one-year extension last month, despite the Supreme Court asking Ahmad to resign voluntarily.

Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Lt-Gen (retd) Syed Athar Ali, who has been serving at the post since 2008 on a two-year contract, was granted a year-long extension in service on November 3, 2010.

Other officers working under extensions include inspector general police Sindh Sultan Salahuddin Babar Khatak, deputy inspector general (DIG) Gilgit-Baltistan Farman Ali, director Intelligence Bureau Karachi Tariq Jamil, DIG Larkana Deen Muhammad Baloch, DIG Sindh Khurram Gulzar, assistant inspector general railways Lahore Mian Akhtar Hayat, budget coordinator Nasrul Aziz, joint secretary ministry of finance Talib Baloch, and joint secretary of population census Khizer Hayat.

Meanwhile, the premier appointed former secretary establishment Ismail Qureshi, who was already given a two-year extension, as rector national school of public policy and former additional secretary of livestock Muhammad Ali Afridi as managing director Pakistan housing authority last year.

Former civil servants, citing the rules of service, told The Express Tribune that an extension could be given to key posts holders conditional to non-availability of suitable candidates for the post. Successor servants are usually taken into confidence while taking such a step but the incumbent government did no such thing, they said.

Former federal secretary of interior Tasneem Noorani, said that extensions are not allowed unless there are “compelling circumstances.” The current extensions, however, do not meet the stringent criteria, he added.


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