KP govt cancels 796 appointments in Prisons dept
Assembly proceedings disrupted as PTI lawmakers
PESHAWAR: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Monday cancelled 796 appointments in the Prisons Department after its own lawmakers alleged corruption, nepotism and violation of merit in the selection.
The government was unwilling to rescind the appointments but the PTI lawmakers of the ‘likeminded group’ forced it to undo them.They were yet not satisfied and called for the sacking of Malik Qasim Khan Khattak, advisor to the chief minister on prisons. They threatened not to stop their protest until the removal of the ‘corrupt’ advisor.
The issue of unmerited appointments disrupted the assembly proceedings on Monday, second time in the last 10 days, as PTI lawmakers fiercely spoke against ‘widespread corruption in all government departments,’ particularly in prisons and health departments.
Speaker Asad Qaiser had to adjourn the House due to the pandemonium and shouts as the opposition did not allow Minister for Public Health Engineering Shah Farman to present the government’s viewpoint.
Member Provincial Assembly, Qurban Ali Khan said the whole system would be ‘shaken’ if action was not taken against the corrupt advisor. Speaking on the floor of the House, he said they did not want anything less than the sacking of the advisor and officials involved in the scandal. “If the government accepts that corruption has been committed in these appointments, it should fire the advisor,” Qurban Khan later told the media.
MPA Baktht Baidar of the Qaumi Watan Party said the PTI chairman, being leader of the major ruling party, sacked him on charges of irregularities in appointments. He asked why did PTI not sack its advisor who had now been found involved in corruption.
“It’s easy to hold others accountable for corruption, but purging corruption from your own ranks is a true triumph,” Qurban Khan said in a guarded reference to PTI’s much-trumpeted fight against corruption.
Mehmood Jan, a PTI lawmaker, took the floor and alleged corruption and nepotism in health, education and forest departments. He even accused PTI’s coalition partners of nepotism and violation of merit.
“There is no merit if you are a minister, you come from Jamaat-i-Islami or you are Shahram Tarakai [of the Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan],” he alleged. “Let me ask which ministry, in fact, is there that is working fairly,” he said as opposition lawmakers thumped desks in approval.
Seeing Mehmood Jan menacing the ruling coalition, the speaker turned off his mike and disallowed him to continue.The unearthing of corruption will deal a serious blow to PTI, which has been championing the cause of corruption-free Pakistan, transparency and rule of merit, as its own lawmakers are speaking against corruption of its government. The differences within PTI are widening at a time when the Senate election is approaching.
Qurban Khan, elected from Chief Minister Pervez Khattak’s native Nowshera district, said people voted them in the name of the fight against corruption but PTI’s own ranks had black sheep. He hinted that the Chief Minister might be behind the illegal and unmerited appointments. He drew laughter from the House when he said, “Munni Badnaam Hoi Darling Tere Liye.”
Buzzes started in the House and galleries as people asked each other about the identity of “Munni” and “Darling.” Shah Farman said “Tabdeeli Aa Nahi Rahi, Tabdeeli Aa Gaye Hay” (change is not happening, it has already been brought about). He argued the change had been brought because a member of the treasury benches was questioning the government’s actions.
The opposition lawmakers disrupted his speech. They shouted at him to taunt the government. The speaker and Shah Farman requested the opposition to listen to him but in vain. And then Shah Farman came with a threat. “Every minister has access to record of the last 20 years of his ministry and if you disrupt my speech I will reveal all the corruption of all the previous ministers before the House,” he said.
With this, many opposition members sprang to their feet and started shouting. Shah Farman said the opposition benches did not want to listen to the government’s stance. The minister said he was responding to a member of the treasury benches and therefore the opposition had no reason to interfere. The Speaker asked the opposition to listen or he would adjourn the session. When the opposition MPAs refused to listen, he adjourned the session for today.