MoST Finally Directed To Take Action Against Officials Serving At Important Positions At Pakistan Standards &Quality Control Authority (PSQCA)

By Ghulam Abbas

The Ministry Of Science And Technology (Most) Has Finally Directed To Take Action Against Officials Serving At Important Positions At Pakistan Standards And Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) despite inquiries in corruption cases at the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

In this regard, in a letter to PSQCA Director General (DG) Abdul Aleem Memon written on April 5, the science and technology ministry has asked the authority to submit a compliance report that will be submitted to the Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology. The committee had earlier directed the ministry and the authority to take action against corrupt officials at PSQCA.

According to the letter, a copy of which is available with Pakistan Today, the ministry has directed PSQCA DG “to expedite the action on all pending inquiries of corruption cases against officers/officials of PSQCA and submit a report on the matter”. As per the letter, the compliance report on the relevant directives was due on March 1, 2021, however the same was still awaited which may be furnished to the ministry till April 6, 2021, before closing of office hours for timely submission to the Senate Secretariat.

On February 3, the Senate committee had admitted that almost all the directives given by the body during the past three years were neglected by the Ministry of Science and Technology. Talking to Profit, Senate Committee Chairman Senator, Mushtaq Ahmed, had claimed that almost all the directives given by the committee during meetings held in the past three years were neglected by the ministry’s officials.

In public interest and in order to resolve issues related to the ministry and its attached departments, the Senate body had issued at least 227 directives in various meetings. “Unfortunately almost all were neglected,” he said, adding that the committee completes its term this month with admission that the bureaucracy in the ministry is not ready to change the status quo. During the last meeting of the committee, Senator Nauman Wazir had also given his conclusion that the departments of the ministry have become salary paying centres. “The attitude of the bureaucracy needed to be changed,” he had opined.

Interestingly, the officials at MoST kept dodging the Senate body meetings whenever the committee highlighted the cases of corruption, irregularities, mismanagement and fraudulent activities reported in the ministry and attached departments. This was also an admission of the chairman of the committee that the instructions of the committee regarding inquiries into corruption cases were never taken seriously by the ministry. In earlier meetings, the committee had directed the ministry to suspend all officials facing inquiries under corruption charges in various departments of the ministry.

The committee had given repeated directions to the ministry to at least remove the high officials from their posts to maintain transparency till the investigations were complete. During the meetings, the committee took up various issues of importance including irregularities in the seniority list of Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR), details of ongoing corruption cases at PSQCA, and pending promotion cases at both organisations.

The ministry had even not paid heed to the cases at courts and contempt cases regarding promotions and appointments, which also came under discussion at the Senate committee. During previous meetings of the Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology, it was disclosed that at least 33 inquiries were pending against the PSQCA officials, at FIA and NAB for years. According to documents, among other officials, PSQCA Secretary Ghulam Umar Kazi, who is enjoying the post for around 10 years, was facing at least five different inquiries at NAB and FIA.

As per the documents these cases are related to corruption, malpractice, misuse of authority, irregularities and holding assets beyond known source of income. As per the list, MosT Legal Director Kalid Ahmed Bablani is facing at least five inquiries at NAB and FIA. He is also facing departmental inquiries related to corruption, misappropriation of funds in Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), ‘Purchase of Laboratory, Equipment Provision of Furniture for PSQCA Complex at Karachi’ project, and also for Illegal issuance of TRC for clearance of consignment in the import exports section of PSQCA. Bablani also faces inquiry for holding assets beyond known sources of income.

PSQCA License, Standardisation and Conformity Assessment Director Ali Bux Soomro is also facing three inquiries at NAB and FIA related to irregularities pertaining to the issuance of a license for substandard products and illegally issuing TRC for clearance of consignment for import and exports. Moreover, Deputy Director (F&A) Syed Ali Muhammad Bukhari is also facing two inquires at FIA and NAB. Apart from the serving high officials of PSQCA, former director-general Pir Bakhsh Khan Jamali is also facing three inquiries related to corruption, illegal use of authority and violations of rules. Barkat Saeed Memon (BS-21), a former director-general, is being investigated by FIA and NAB in three cases.

Many other serving and retired officials of the authority including, former director Aijaz Ali Panhwar, Director Finance Nazir Hussain, former director Khalid Hussain Langah are also undergoing various inquiries at FIA and NAB. According to sources at NAB and FIA, the inquiries mentioned in the list were ongoing, while in a number of cases the PSQCA officials were not cooperating for the provision of documents and other evidence.

In addition to this, the auditors of the Auditor General of Pakistan (AGP) last year had found the appointment, regularisation and promotion of a BS-19 officer, who held three important positions at MoST, to be “irregular”. According to documents, auditors had found that the entire process of appointment, regularisation, deputation and promotion of Shakil Arshad “was not according to laid down procedures”.

This news was originally published at Profit Pakistan Today.