PML-N govt plans restructuring of FIA


— PML-N govt will apparently give jobs to 3,850 persons in FIA, including 209 officers

—Federal government will provide more than Rs 2 billion annual funds to the agency for restructuring


ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in an apparent move to give jobs to 3,850 persons, including 209 officers, has planned to restructure the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) prior to the upcoming general elections in Pakistan, it has been reliably learned.

The FIA’s restructuring plan had now been forwarded to Prime Minister (PM) Shahid Khaqan Abbasi for final approval on the advice of Minister for Interior Ahsan Iqbal. If approved, the federal government would have to provide more than Rs 2 billion annual funds for restructuring and creation of new jobs in the agency.

A copy of the summary of the plan available with Pakistan Today showed that new directorates would be established in Gilgit, Multan and Hyderabad, while three director generals (DGs) of grade-21, around 11 directors of grade-20, around 26 additional directors of grade-19, around 37 deputy directors (Investigation) of grade-18, five deputy directors (Legal) of grade-18, and 127 assistant directors (Investigation) of grade-17  would be employed under the new restructuring plan.

“If approved, a summary for the creation of 3,850 new posts inside FIA costing Rs 2.370 billion may be moved to the honourable Prime Minister of Pakistan for approval please,” the summary mentioned.

It is relevant to mention here that appointments of blue-eyed officers on lucrative slots had been a traditional practice of PML-N government. Due to this, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had to investigate the former PM Nawaz Sharif in the past on the charges of appointing his favourite officers on senior positions by showing utter disregard for merit.

According to the summary of the restructuring plan, Minister for Interior Ahsan Iqbal, while visiting FIA headquarters on October 19, 2017, tasked the FIA deputy general (DG) to chalk out a comprehensive revamping plan of the organisation. The plan, consisting of eight intertwined initiatives, have been shared with interior ministry secretary, which were all in progress.

FIA DG Bashir Ahmed Memon had informed the interior minister that FIA field offices and units have so far not developed a mechanism to classify, monitor, evaluate and manage the matters of scheduled criminal offences of the respective circles and units. Now, it had been proposed as necessary to establish a circle at each divisional headquarters of all the provinces to effectively administer the scheduled offences of FIA, the summary further stated.

Documents also revealed that FIA was facing a shortage of funds, due to which junior officers were deployed at the counters of international entry and exit immigration points at the airports, as well as land routes. Currently, the lowest ranking officials (constables) were deployed as “counter officials’, even though they have the least training, motivation and education, thus making it difficult for them to interact with foreign visitors. Due to this, the immigration counters depict a very negative image of Pakistan.

Hence, it was essential to establish modern immigration booths and deploy officials of the rank of assistant sub-inspector (ASI) as counter handlers. Furthermore, the immigration shifts should be supervised by an officer of the rank of assistant director, the documents read.

The documents also showed that the need of establishing a new directorate at Gilgit had increased with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and a rise in trade activities at Gwadar in Balochistan also required improvement in FIA infrastructure in Balochistan. Similarly, FIA was facing problems with handling modern-day crimes, especially electronic crimes, money laundering, financial crimes, terrorism, human smuggling and others.

It mentions merit here that the number of cases being handled by FIA had witnessed a 51 per cent increase after 1984, while 403 per cent increase had been recorded in immigration cases. During this time, the country’s population had also risen to 207.774 million in 2017 from 66.79 million in 1975, when FIA was first established. However, FIA’s structural and operational size had not been enhanced in any way to match the increasing population and technological demands of the modern world.

Well-informed sources said that it was surprising that the incumbent government had planned to appoint their favourites on important positions within FIA when only three months were left in the completion of its constitutional tenure.

They said the PML-N government would benefit its allies and supporters by giving them jobs at FIA before the general elections. However, restructuring of FIA was the need of hour due to serious challenges being faced by the country, they added. They also said that political appointments in the garb of restructuring FIA prior to elections might ruin the organisation even further.

Therefore, the entire process pertaining to the restructuring of FIA and making appointments should be transparent and the honours of making new appointments should be passed on to the next government instead of the present government, whose tenure would expire within the next three months, the sources concluded.