–‘We are heading nowhere under existing system’, says science & tech secy
–Attempts being made to bury ongoing inquires against ministry high-ups: sources
ISLAMABAD: In an interesting move, the federal secretary of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) has asked the Establishment Division to form an independent inquiry body for investigating corruption cases in ministries, reasoning that the departmental inquiries make little difference.
During a recent meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Science and Technology (S&T), the secretary, while showing her helplessness to investigate corruption and illegal appointments cases in the ministry, made the remarks that their departmental inquiries are heading no way due to the pressure from various lobbies and interest groups.
Science and Technology Secretary Yasmeen Masood said the number of inquiries about corruption and irregularities in the ministry and its attached departments was inconclusive for the past several years.
The inquiry officers, according to the secretary, mostly save their colleagues despite serious allegations and corruption reports. “We are heading no way under the existing system,” she said while briefing the Senate body regarding pending inquiries in the ministry.
Chairmanship of the committee Senator Mushtaq Ahmed, while endorsing the helplessness of the secretary, announced that the Senate body will write to the Establishment Division for devising a way out of the issue. He also said that a separate meeting of the committee will be called for discussing the corruption cases and pending inquiries. The Senate body has already constituted subcommittees for investigating grievances of officials at Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) and other departments.
Another official of the ministry informed the committee that the stay orders received by the alleged corrupt officials from courts were also hindering the ongoing inquiries in the MoST.
The science and technology ministry has been under fire for rampant corruption cases, especially in its attached departments. Illegal appointments, promotions and corruption cases of the ministry were also under investigation at the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) and National Accountability Bureau (NAB). There are several pending corruption cases related to the PSQCA, an attached department of the ministry.
An official of the ministry, on the condition of anonymity, told Pakistan Today that the secretary, while making excuses of her inability to handle the corruption cases, has actually tried to bury the ongoing inquires, which may involve high-level officials of the ministry.
“All the officials, who are facing inquiries, are enjoying the important postings within the ministry. The secretary could have at least suspended or reshuffled the accuse/suspected officials had she been serious about the illegal activities in the ministry and its attached departments,” they said.
Meanwhile, the Senate committee directed the Higher Education Commission (HEC) to resolve the problems faced by B-Tech graduates and formulate a clear policy in the consultation with all those involved.
The meeting was also given compliance status on the committee’s earlier recommendations regarding low research and development budgets of the attached departments, poor departmental structures, ineffective in-house inquiries, capacity issues, industry linkages, pay packages and regularisation of contractual employees.
The committee meeting was also attended by Senators Dr Sikandar Mandhro, Nuzhat Sadiq, Kamran Michael, Syed Muhammad Sabir Shah, Gul Bashra, and representatives from the HEC, PEC, NTC and other organisations.