Merit Flouted: Officer Promoted By PM Is Under Investigation For Violations Of Rules
Prime Minister Imran Khan has given a promotion to Minister for Communication Murad Saeed’s favourite officer at the Postal Services of Pakistan (PSP), Ijaz Minhas, against whom the Ministry of Communications had recommended disciplinary action for causing losses worth billions of rupees to the exchequer. The PM took the decision on the minister’s insistence.
Last year, an inquiry was ordered against Ijaz Minhas, BPS-21, Additional Director General Financial Services of Pakistan Post Office Department (PPOD) by then Secretary Postal Services Pir Bakhsh Khan Jamali.
The inquiry officer, Ms. Khalida Gulnar a BPS-21 officer, found Ijaz Minhas guilty of violations of terms and conditions of the agreement with different IT firms. Gulnar recommended ‘departmental proceedings under efficiency and disciplinary rules 1973’. A copy of the inquiry report is available with Naya Daur Media.
As Additional Director General Financial Services PPOD, Ijaz Minhas reportedly mishandled automation of the department, rendering the Postal Services dysfunctional which resulted in losses worth billions of rupees.
The digitization program was launched some 12 years ago to make PPOD computerized and automated not only to compete with private sector courier services but also to generate revenue making the department self-reliant. This digitization attracted more customers and at the same time enhanced the capacity of the officers to keep check on fraud and misappropriation of government funds.
Since Ijaz Minhas took over the charge around two years ago as head of the financial services of PPOD, he made the digitization program dysfunctional without having any alternate program.
The High Powered Board met on June 5, under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Imran Khan for the promotion of senior officers to Grade-22. In an unprecedented move, the PM flouted merit and service rules and told members of the board that Murad Saeed wants Ijaz Minhas promoted to Grade-22.
According to a top level source who had direct access to the meeting, the PM was informed by a member of the committee that Ijaz Minhas does not meet the prescribed criteria for promotion as overwhelming evidence of inefficiency and misconduct is available against him including a pending disciplinary proceedings. The member suggested that it would be a huge embarrassment for the government if the said officer was promoted by superseding four competent and honest officers.
However, the PM ignored the advice and told the committee to forget about the rules and promote him.
A senior officer at the Establishment Division who wished not to be named told Naya Daur Media that the service rules clearly stipulate that an officer against whom disciplinary proceedings are pending, shall not even be considered for promotion.
When this correspondent asked a senior officer at the Communications Ministry that how an officer against whom overwhelming evidence were presented to the High Powered Board, could be promoted; he said: “In my entire career that spreads over 25 years, I have not witnessed such disregard for rules and merit that we saw in Ijaz Minhas’s promotion case”.
While he was serving as Managing Director Pakistan Post Foundation, an audit report was issued about Ijaz Minhas’s additional salary which he kept drawing for more than two years without any valid official sanction. He also pocketed additional house rent during his posting as MD from March 2013 to Feb 2015 in violation of the prescribed government rules.
PPOD recovered the additional salaries and rent from Ijaz Minhas that he had illegally withdrawn. Documents showing the same are available with Naya Daur Media.
Legal experts say that withdrawing double salaries or additional house rent under the rules is a criminal offence against which legal proceedings should be initiated. They added that his promotion is beyond comprehension. |The question should be as to how he is still in service as he should have long been terminated because he confessed to withdrawing double salaries and additional house rent”, an expert said. He added that there are examples of government officers found guilty of such violations being terminated from their service.
A senior administrative officer of the PPOD told Naya Daur Media on the condition of anonymity that the system is currently in shambles. “We are neither computerized nor manual which increased the rate of fraud and embezzlement manifold”. He said that Saving Bank and military pension payment have been the major sources of revenue for the department and because of the dysfunctional computerization system, they are losing their major revenue source which is military pension payment.
In addition to that, Ijaz Minhas without proper investigation, declared four hundred thousand genuine military pensioners as ‘Ghost’. It further antagonized the military and gave them another reasons to switch over to banks.
Further, the officer said that without Minister Murad Saeed’s consent, Ijaz Minhas could not take such a huge step that everyone knew would cause a disaster. ‘We are losing customers and if this continues, I have no hesitation to tell you that PPOD will not be able to sustain itself. We are seeing another Steel Mill in the making with 47000 employees’ future at stake”, he said.
Losing military pension will multiply the deficit which now stands approximately at Rs. 13 billion during the current financial year. Moreover, in the absence of a digitalized system coupled with check and balance, we are not able to keep record of all the transactions made at our thousands of post offices across Pakistan which paves the way for heavy frauds and embezzlement worth billions of rupees, the officer added.
“Have you ever heard that three months pension is paid in advance? Ijaz Minhas made it happen. He ordered payment of 3-months advance pension payment without the approval of the Finance Division and informing Controller Military Accounts Pension Lahore. The amount disbursed is in billions and stands unaccounted for. This is a serious misuse of authority as well as financial loss to the department. The officer added that it is a standard NAB case.
Senior officers at PPOD that this correspondent spoke to said that if you dig deeper into his service record, you will notice violations after violations of prescribed government rules. Ijaz Minhas is famous for disregarding government rules. They added that all the major initiatives that the minister have taken so far were influenced by Ijaz Minhas.
Minhas denies allegations
When contacted, Ijaz Minhas told Naya Daur Media that the inquiry was conducted by an officer who had personal grudge against him because he had superseded her. About the audit para regarding him withdrawing double salaries, he said that it was an audit observation that he later cleared. He said that he cannot even think of disregarding government rules.
Minister Murad Saeed did not respond to Naya Daur Media’s request for comment.
The author is an Islamabad-based freelance journalist and contributes to different national and international papers and journals.