Update: On 7th May, 2019 the Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court disposed off the petition against promotions of Wajeeha Fatima and Marriam Ahmed on the basis of it becoming infructuous — Editor
Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA), one of the country’s leading cultural organisations, is likely to face administrative problems in the near future. With the Departmental Promotion Committee (DPC) not having held a meeting in the last eight years, the imminent retirement of four senior directors is bound to create a vacuum in the PNCA management.
According to sources in the PNCA, the vacuum in the administrative and performing arts divisions (PAD) would not only create panic among the senior and junior employees of the council, but will also hamper working relations between employees.
Unrest among employees and the promotion system is haunting the council not just because of the senior officials’ retirement, but also due to the fact that other officials do not meet the criteria for being promoted.
Sources said two out of the three senior directors had already retired, while a senior director was going to retire this November. “Children Art Workshop (CAW) Director Mehmooda Ghazia and Administration Director Azhar Ishaque retired this July, while PAD Director Hassan Abbas Raza will retire this November,” the official said.
The official added that Raza was currently holding the additional charge of administration director, which meant the council would have to hire the services of two high-profile officials from outside PNCA.
According to sources, the DPC of PNCA had not played its role for the last eight years. Hence, there was great unrest amongst the employees of PNCA. “A few months ago, five employees of the PNCA filed a petition against the promotion of two junior employees who were promoted before their tenure period for promotion had matured. On the other hand, there are other employees here who have spent over 20 years in grade 17,” the official said.
After the devolution of the Culture Ministry, the council was handed over to the Information Ministry. But a lack of coordination between the ministry and the council, employees’ problems, including promotions, have not been settled.
Earlier, PNCA junior photographer (BPS-16) Ishtiaq Hussain, along with acting publication officer (BPS-17) Anjum Sajjad Gohar, publication officer/ designer (BPS-16) Sobia Rehman, and publication officer/designer (BPS-16) Tanveer Akhtar filed a joint petition against the out-of-turn promotions of two females from their basic pay scale (BPS) 16 to BPS-17, on March 14, 2011, made by the former Culture Secretary Moinul Islam Bukhari.
The complainants claimed that Wajeeha Fatima, one of the promoted employees, also enjoyed special privileges on the directives of then federal culture secretary.
The petitioners said as inter-seniority list, they were senior and more qualified than Marriam Ahmed and Wajeeha Fatima, who got promoted.
“The eligible persons in-line for promotion cannot be deprived of their share of further advancement by ignoring the relevant rules and seniority, while there are no adverse remarks in the ACRs of the petitioners and their performance is versatile. There is no reason for not promoting us to the higher scale BPS-17. Marriam Ahmed and Wajeeha Fatima are most junior,” the petitioners said.
Employees said that on the one hand, this kind of favouritism was a norm, while on the other, a senior official like Amber Shah (BPS-17) had not been promoted for 23 years. “Amber Shah has been working as research officer (RO) for the last 23 years. She meets all the criteria to be promoted to BPS-18 but her competency is challenged by the backing of incompetent others by influential people,” an official of the PNCA said.
Not only are the senior directors’ offices going to be vacant, but second-string employees are also retiring in a few years, creating further set-backs for the organisation. “CPI Director Khalid Zubair will retire in 2013, Publication Research and Reference (PRR) Director Waqar Hanif, will retire in 2014, while National Puppet Theatre (NPT) Director Zulfiqar Ahmed will retire in 2015,” the official added.
The PNCA employees said that with senior directors retiring, the deputy director would have to fulfil the criteria of having worked for the office for five years, within which time-frame more senior posts would be vacated. The employees demanded DPC meetings be held on schedule. “Without DPC meetings, promotions are not possible. We do not know how it has been happening in the past,” an employee requesting anonymity said. He condemned the practices of favouritism and nepotism that have penetrated the PNCA over the last few years.
PAD Director Hassan Abbas Raza said there were no such irregularities in promotions of employees, but admitted that after the retirement of senior officials, a vacuum would be created in the PNCA management.
Raza said DPC meetings were usually held at the time of promotion of officials and in PNCA, the last DPC meeting was held eight to nine months ago. When asked about Ambar Shah, who has not been promoted for 23 years, Raza said promotion happened in phases and officials had to spend a minimum of five years in every grade.
“Shah is a competent official of the PNCA, her tenure (of five years) as RO will complete in a few days and hopefully she will be promoted as a deputy director (DD)”.