PESHAWAR: The Senate has called for the withdrawal of a notification by Chief Secretary Amjad Ali Khan through which the official appointed political agents in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata). A committee of the upper house said the appointments were illegal and in violation of the rules of business.
A report adopted on July 18 by the Senate Standing Committee on State and Frontier Regions (Safron), headed by Senator Hilalur Rehman, landed at Fata Secretariat and Governor House for necessary action on Monday, August 1. This was stated by the chairperson of the committee as he spoke to The Express Tribune.
The committee was constituted after Senator Usman Kakar raised questions about an earlier notification issued by the K-P Establishment and Administration department on the appointment of four political agents for Mohmand, Bajaur, Kurram and Khyber agencies.
The then governor of K-P, Sardar Mehtab, who was called by the committee, said he will be relinquishing charge and the chief secretary will take “an appropriate decision in the matter”.
In his written reply to the committee, the chief secretary said that in accordance to the posting and transfer policy of the provincial government, the governor and he are the competent authority to post officials of BS-18 and above and up to BS-17.
“The law and order situation is such that the areas cannot be left unattended for long,” read the reply. It added officers were chosen after a lengthy process of scrutiny. It cited 34(3) of the Rules of Business 1985, which defined power of the governor under the Constitution whereby “the decision of the governor in his discretion shall be final and therefore all appointments were made in [the] best of public and national interest”.
However, the committee concluded that the governor was the sole executive authority for transfers and postings in Fata and his powers could not be delegated to any officer. In the absence of a governor or necessary directions, it stated the chief secretary should have either continued with the already-appointed political agents, handed additional charge to assistant political agents or waited for the new governor.
The report stated that Amjad either “intentionally or inadvertently misinterpreted” the noting of the former governor. It added there were question marks over the appointments as the officers did not have the required experience for such key posts. The committee was making a special reference to the appointment of a political agent in a region as volatile as Fata.
In its five recommendations, the committee has said the notification for appointments was not issued by the competent authority and therefore would have to be withdrawn. And while a fresh summary for new appointees will be moved, keeping in view the seniority of the officer, the names of the current political agents will not be included. It also states that “under the current circumstances Fata should not be made a testing ground for training novices”.
The committee also recommended that the chief secretary and the then secretary establishment be censured and disciplinary action taken by against them for unauthorised actions. It added the letter of censure must be placed in their personal files.
“The recommendations have been forwarded to the relevant quarters,” Senator Hilalur Rehman said. “It took a period of 30 days for us to conclude the facts. Apart from the 13 members, the meeting was attended by Senator Aitezaz Ahsan, leader of the opposition, Senator Farhatullah Babar and Senator Muhammad Ali Khan Said.”