No nepotism under Imran’s watch, Zartaj told


–PM tells Zartaj to withdraw letter; she follows suit

–Zartaj says purpose of letter was to refer CV to said department

–Says the appointment is in contrast to PTI’s core values

ISLAMABAD: A day after Minister of State for Climate Change Zartaj Gul got her sister Shabnam Gul appointed as the director of the National Counter-Terrorism Authority (NACTA) over a ‘telephone call’, Prime Minister Imran Khan took exception to the posting and told her to withdraw the letter.

The development was shared by Imran’s close aide Naeemul Haque on Sunday on his Twitter handle. According to Haque, the prime minister was not pleased with Zartaj, who used her influence to promote her sister. As per Haque, he said the act was in contrast to the core values of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as the party does not condone the “use of influence to promote our relatives and friends”.

Gul later issued another letter to withdraw her previous letter. Haque shared the said letter on his Twitter profile. The letter states that Shabnam Gul is an independent candidate and the only purpose of her letter was to refer her CV to the said department. She contended that she and her party do not believe in nepotism.

Earlier, a letter dated February 27, 2019, written by an individual in Zartaj’s office to NACTA, which cited a telephonic conversation regarding Shabnam Gul’s appointment in the authority.

The letter had gone viral on social media in which she asked NACTA to appoint her sister as director. It was criticised by politicians and activists, who called out the state minister for nepotism.

Once it turned into a controversy, NACTA clarified its position through a statement on Saturday in which it stated that the appointment wasn’t done under “influence but on merit”.

A three-member committee interviewed the applicants on May 14 for vacant posts of assistant directors, deputy directors, and directors, and cases of six out of 12 candidates were recommended to be sent to Establishment Division, according to a statement issued by NACTA on Saturday.

“Ms Shabnam Gul was one of the selected candidates. The committee recommended her purely on merit for posting against one of the vacant posts of directors as she is already working in BS-19,” the statement had clarified.

“Being found a suitable candidate to serve at NACTA, her services were requisitioned through the Establishment Division on May 22. The news item circulating on media is totally baseless,” NACTA had said. “The NACTA followed 100 per cent merit and due process in requisitioning of her services.”

Also, the minister had defended the appointment in a talk with Pakistan Today, saying it was based on “merit”.

“My sister is a BPS-19 officer doing her PhD in terrorism and FATA. She has an MPhil in International Relations and her thesis was terrorism. Her posting as director was against an advertised post by NACTA and she was only selected due to her specialisation in counter-terrorism,” the state minister claimed on Saturday.

She said that NACTA had interviewed several candidates and the impression that her sister was selected without due process was “wrong”.

“Also, NACTA always picks people from other government departments as they don’t have their own people. Shabnam was not given any preferential treatment. She was in government service before I became a minister. If people from any minister’s family are competent, should they be discriminated against,” she had argued.

However, it was revealed by local media channels and on social media that Shabnam Gul and another researcher of the Department of Kashmir Studies at University Oriental College had allegedly plagiarised from a Master’s degree thesis and research paper on Kashmiriyat and political parties of Kashmir by KH Khursheed. In 2006, they had together published a plagiarised book titled Tareekh-i-Kashmir: 1947 to date.