Cash starved PaK govt’s appointment of advisor draws flak

TARIQ NAQASH

Muzaffarabad, Nov 15: The cash starved PaK government has appointed a former federal secretary as adviser to the prime minister on a one year contract against a hefty pay package in a move being criticised by many here.
 Muhammad Kashif Murtaza, a retired BPS-22 federal secretary who had served as PaK chief secretary from December 2004 to March 2007, was allowed perks and privileges in accordance with MP-1 package, which includes Rs 350,000 per month, besides other benefits, such as official transport and POL.
 According to the notification, Murtaza’s would be responsible for “management and development of property and real estate of the AJK Government and the AJK Council situated in the jurisdiction of the Government of Pakistan; welfare, improvement of livelihood and settlement of Kashmiri refugees in Pakistan and AJK; and any other tasks, the government may assign to him, from time to time.”
 However, bureaucratic circles in PaK were surprised at the appointment, terming it uncalled for in view of the job description of the former federal secretary holding domicile of the Punjab.
 Interestingly, the “Jammu Kashmir properties,” located in Pakistan, are under the control of the federal ministry of Kashmir affairs in accordance with a 1960 law.
 The ministry has appointed an administrator, based in Lahore, for the management of these properties who has been maintaining a separate account for the income thus generated.
 Though there have been serious reservations among the Kashmiris about the transparency in the management of these properties, the ministry has however hardly bothered to share information or other details about it with the elected governments in Muzaffarabad.
 In the PaK Interim Constitution Act 1974, the ‘Jammu Kashmir properties’ fall in the legislative list of the AJK Council but the latter too has never been taken on board by the federal ministry in this regard.
  “If at all he has the competence to manage JK properties and real estate, he should have been appointed by the ministry of Kashmir affairs,” one official said.
 As far as Murtaza’s job regarding settlement of refugees was concerned, the official pointed out that the notification gave impression as if there had been a fresh influx of Kashmiri refugees from across the Line of Control.
 “The (Kashmiri) refugees are living in Pakistan for the past six decades and they have their 12 directly elected representatives in the AJK Legislative Assembly, half of whom are cabinet members. In every cabinet, there is a full-fledged minister for rehabilitation of Kashmiri refugees. So what’s the point of appointing him for the same task?”
 Sources in the finance department also criticised the appointment in the face of acute financial crunch in PaK.
 They said that second quarter of current year had begun 45 days ago, but the (AJK) government had not yet released funds to the departments for developmental activities mainly because it needed the amount released by the centre “to adjust the overdraft (OD) and pay salaries.”
 “A government which is unable to pay salaries to its regular employees in time should not have made this unnecessary appointment,” the sources said.
 It may be mentioned here that currently there are 24 ministers and at least 5 advisers to the PM with the status of ministers. Countless other advisers have also been appointed against lump-sum salaries, ranging between Rs 50,000 and Rs 75000, from the funds of Kashmir Liberation Cell.
 This correspondent made several attempts to contact PaK finance minister Chaudhry Latif Akbar, information minister Bazil Ali Naqvi and some other officials for government’s version but the calls went unattended.

Lastupdate on : Thu, 15 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 15 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 16 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST




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