Jobbery!February 28, 2010
By Anjum Niaz | The News
The yellow sticky ‘post-it’ became Benazir’s Achilles Heel. It’s alleged that she would use them whenever she didn’t want to leave a permanent record on the files. As prime minister, she often appointed people based not on merit. President Farooq Leghari knew what was going on. He was from her party. But when he had had enough of jobbery, he dug out all the yellow ‘stickies’ and prepared a dossier based on them to dismiss her government.
Prime Minister Gilani and President Zardari are today following the same unethical practice of a spoils system. The ambassador to Syria is the latest howler. He’s Zardari’s appointee. A mere graduate, we’re told. Ambassador Aminullah Raisani has carted his whole extended family to Damascus and provided them with jobs at the Pakistan International School. How smart is that! During his two-year term, the man will rake in close to a million dollars as salaries paid to his sister Saeeda (who has been made the principal); another sister Ms Abbas (Urdu teacher); daughters Amna and Quratulein (teachers-at-large) brother-in-law Ishaque (accountant); nephews Atiq and Ali (business teachers); granddaughter Nayla (math teacher); son-in-law of sister Abdullah and cousin Ahsan (teachers without portfolio); and cousin Rasheed (biology teacher).
“The only one left out is the ambassador’s dog!” a former ambassador to Syria tells me. “And if the ambassador should deem fit to appoint his dog at a princely salary, there is nothing anyone can do. The ambassador has the sole authority to deal with the affairs of the school as he pleases. You can write as many columns as you want, the sad truth is that no one can do a thing to take the ambassador to task. He’s a non-career diplomat. He’s a direct hire of Zardari.”
The Foreign Office is thus helpless. What a shame!
But the sacked teachers of the school in Damascus have taken the Pakistan embassy to court. Apart from the ambassador making a mockery of his position abroad, imagine how much of our valuable foreign exchange will now be sunk in defending the ambassador’s blatant nepotism. If the news report is true, does a starving nation, surviving on the ‘fruits of democracy’ as Zardari says, deserve to have such people as Raisani represent them abroad?
Thankfully, our embassy in Paris has been saved the humiliation of having a junior joint-secretary level DMG officer head the embassy. Fashion designer Mehmood Bhatti recommended the officer to Zardari who as we all know too well by now likes to honour his friends’ wishes. The senior civil servants protested by going to court and had the appointment cancelled. Why does our president continue to appoint people who don’t merit the job? By the time Raisani and his family leave Damascus, the reputation of the school, considered one of the best, would be mud. The handsome earnings that the school fetches would be in family coffers. How sad. The ambassador is the chairman of the board and controls all the money which is non-auditable.
“We are but helpless onlookers,” says the former ambassador to Syria who lists out his own achievements in making the 20-year-old school a success story.
Then we have the story of Brig (r) Aziz Ahmad, rector of the National University of Modern Languages (NUML). The man in broad daylight has the gall to get his whole family on board, literally. Daughters, nephews, brothers and daughter’s father-in-law are on NUML’s payroll. Earlier this very enterprising brigadier wangled scholarships for daughter and son-in-law for doctoral studies in Britain. (Gosh, the guy must love his daughter a lot!).
And guess what, he even accommodated his darling daughter’s father-in-law Maj (r) Akhtar as deputy director Peshawar Campus.
One can only ask Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali, prime minister’s adviser on education to rectify the wrongs being perpetrated at home and abroad. He can do it.