Senate committee on jobs quota fails to do its job

Source: Published in Politics on Wednesday, July 2, 2014

ISLAMABAD: A special committee of the Senate, formed during the tenure of the previous PPP government to review recruitment policy and ensure implementation of constitutionally guaranteed job quotas for the provinces in the federal ministries has been dissolved before it could do something substantial, Dawn has learnt.

Although the Special Committee on Recruitments held 32 meetings during the four years of its existence, it came up with a recommendation that it should be dissolved because the subject had been transferred to the committee on law and justice, according to a report presented in the Senate by the committee’s convener and Leader of the House Raja Zafarul Haq on Monday.

It was due to frequent protests in the Senate by the members from the smaller provinces, particularly Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, over alleged violation of the provincial job quotas allocated under Article 27 of the Constitution that the eight-member special committee was formed on Sept 24, 2010 to review appointments made between 2007 and 2010. Then it was headed by leader of the house Nayyar Bokhari, the incumbent chairman of the Senate.

According to the report, the committee summoned senior officials of Nadra, PIA, National Highway Authority, SNGP, SSGP and OGDC and nine ministries, including those of defence, health, science and technology, petroleum and natural resources and information and broadcasting.

Senators from smaller provinces to demand reconstitution of the panel, says Zahid Khan of ANP

“The general agendas of the meetings were related to the process of appointments in the organisations and the ministries during 2007-10... and credentials of those appointed as chairmen and members of the board of directors and their salaries and benefits ,” says the report.

It gives brief details of each meeting with recommendations of the committee.

Interestingly, in most of the recommendations, the committee only sought basic details like “appointment criteria, transfer and promotion policy, total strength, vacant positions, qualification of candidates, clipping of newspaper advertisements, copies of domiciles of candidates etc.”

When contacted, a member of the committee, Senator Zahid Khan of the Awami National Party (ANP) alleged that the committee had been dissolved without consulting a majority of the members.

Mr Khan, who has been most vocal on the issue in the Senate, said the committee had failed to complete its task, claiming that he came to know that it had been dissolved when he saw the final report of the panel.

The ANP senator alleged that both the PPP and PML-N governments had not paid the needed attention to the issue.

He declared that the senators from the smaller provinces would demand reconstitution of the committee.

When asked about the reasons for the committee’s failure, he said that due to lack of interest shown by the government the bureaucrats also did not take the committee seriously.

He said the officials attended the meetings only after the committee issued warnings on a number of occasions. Officials of some departments did not turn up despite repeated requests.

He said the present convener had not convened any meeting.

When contacted, Mr Haq said the committee had already become non-functional when he took over and the subject was now pending before the Standing Committee on Law and Justice. He said that prior to him the committee had been headed by Mr Bokhari and Jahangir Badr of the PPP.

He said the subject had been under consideration of the Senate’s Functional Committee on Human Rights. However, after the merger of the division concerned into the law and justice ministry as a result of the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, the task to review the recruitment policy had been transferred to the committee on law and justice.

Mr Haq said that in his final report he had recommended that PML-N’s Rafiq Rajwana and MQM’s Tahir Mashhadi should also be transferred to the law and justice committee as they had done a lot of work on the subject as members of the special committee.

Interestingly, according to the report, the decision to dissolve the committee had been made twice and on both the occasions most of the members were absent from the meetings.

On Feb 28, Senate Chairman Bokhari presided over a meeting held to consider the issue of the continuing with or dissolving the special committee, says the report.

The meeting was attended by Leader of Opposition Chaudhry Aitzaz Ahsan, Senate Secretary Amjad Pervaiz and two officials of the Senate Secretariat.

“It was urged that the Special Committee on Recruitments be dissolved as the subject matter is already covered by standing and functional committees and the committee on recruitment has become infructuous,” says the report.

Another meeting was held on May 22, with Mr Haq in the chair, which decided to “wind up” the committee. This meeting was attended by only two members -- Rafiq Rajwana and Tahir Mashhadi.

Other members of the committee were Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, Zahid Khan, Hasil Khan Bizenjo, Islamuddin Shaikh and Hilalur Rehman.