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Zartaj Gul made official request to appoint her sister in Nacta

Zartaj Gul made an official written request to Secretary Interior Major (retd) Azam Suleman Khan to appoint her sister Shabnam Gul in Nacta.

June 02, 2019

ISLAMABAD: State Minister for Climate Change Zartaj Gul made an official written request to Secretary Interior Major (retd) Azam Suleman Khan to appoint her sister Shabnam Gul in the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta).

Zartaj Gul’s Principal Staff Officer Sami Ul Haq wrote the letter to Secretary Interior on February 27, 2019. “I am directed to refer to your telephonic conversation with Ms Zartaj Gul, Minister of State for Climate, regarding the appointment of Ms Shabnam Gul in Nacta. The CV of Ms Shabnam Gul is attached herewith for further necessary action please,” says the letter. Following the written request of State Minister Zartaj Gul, the interior ministry appointed Ms Shabnam Gul as Director (BS-19) in NACTA on May 22, 2019. Shabnam Gul has zero practical experience in the field of counterterrorism. However, she was given a prized slot in the most sensitive department of the country.

“Pakistan is facing terrorismfor the last two decades and Nacta is the premier anti-terror watchdog of the country. However, nepotism in this department raises serious questions on the capacity and capabilities of Nacta. This will not only ruin the reputation of the anti-terror watchdog but will also affect the performance of the department if it continued appointing people with zero experience in this field to the top posts,” said an official source.

Shabnam Gul, who is an Assistant Professor in Lahore College Women University (LCWU), is a PhD student and despite passage of almost nine years she has failed to complete her PhD dissertation. Recently, she has been given extension for the third time to complete her thesis. The only experience Shabnam Gul has in the field of counterterrorism is her PhD thesis which is related to terrorism in Pakistan. However, despite passage of almost nine years she could not complete her thesis. Other than this she neither has any practical experience nor even a single research paper in this field, yet she was appointed to the top slot of such a sensitive department.

According to well-placed sources, Ms Shabnam Gul who is currently in charge of International Relations Department, LCWU and got admission in PhD in the Political Science Deptt of the same university in 2010. She availed herself of study leave for four years from 2014-2018 and extended her leave for almost six months. The sources say she is bound to serve the LCWU for five years after completion of her PhD degree, as she has signed a legal bond with the university under the HEC rules. However, she has already violated the bond by not completing her PhD despite passage of over eight years. “She got re-registration in March 2019; however, her case was not presented to the Board of Studies meeting and later it was included in the agenda items of Advance Board at the eleventh hour. The advance board gave approval of re-registration in PhD,” informed the source.

Talking to The News, Shabnam Gul says her appointment is based purely on merit and her sister has played no role in securing this job. I was in Grade-19 even when my sister had no government portfolio. "I have job offers in three other departments as well. All these job offers were made to me just because I meet the job criteria. This notion is baseless and completely wrong that Zartaj Gul has played any role in securing this job for me, commented Miss Shabnam Gul. Asked what was the criteria of her selection for such a senior post and whether she had any research papers on counterterrorism to her credit, Miss Shabnam said she won't comment on it, as this correspondent seemed to know everything about her. Asked whether she had secured four years paid study leave for her PhD and whether she had signed a bond with the HEC that she will serve in the university for five years after completing her PhD, she said if this correspondent knew that much about her then what's the need of her response. Miss Shabnam was also asked whether she had completed her PhD. She said she won't reply to the correspondent. To a question about reason for her failure to complete her PhD degree despite passage of almost nine years, Miss Shabnam said she does not want to respond to this question.

The News also contacted Vice Chancellor of LCWU Dr Farkhanda who said she could not comment on anything. Asked whether the board had approved Shabnam Gul’s re-registration in PhD, the VC said she had to check the record first and could not comment on the issue without verifying facts. As per the minutes of Advance Studies and Research Board meeting held on March 06, 2019, the board gave approval of revised titles of PhD thesis after re-registration. The notification says, “In pursuance of the decision of advance studies and research board taken in its meeting held on March 06 2019, it is hereby notified that the revised titles of thesis synopses after re-registration presented by the following students of the political science department are approved and they are allowed to continue their research work for PhD degree under the supervision of respective supervisor”. Miss Shabnam Gul’s thesis title for PhD was “War against Terrorism: A case study of Pakistan (2001-2012)”. However, the Advance Studies and Research Board has revised her title after the re-registration and now her thesis title is “War against Terrorism: A case study of Pakistan (2001-2013)”.

When contacted, Nacta spokesman said: "The National Coordinator Nacta has clarified that Nacta received a total of 12 requests from employees of different federal and provincial government departments working in BS-17 to 19 for posting in Nacta on deputation basis". "A three member committee was constituted to interview these applicants and short-list suitable officers for posting against vacant posts of Assistant Director (BS 17) Deputy Director (BS 18) and Director (BS19). Interviews were conducted on 14 May 2019 and the Committee recommended 6 of 12 candidates for sending their cases to the Establishment Division for further processing. 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", says the NACTA clarification. The clarification further says, "She is a PhD scholar with several papers on counter extremism and terrorism and was found appropriate and relevant for research wing. Being found a suitable candidate to serve at Nacta, her services were requisitioned through the Establishment Division on 22 May 2019. The news item circulating in media is totally baseless. Nacta followed 100% merit and due process in requisitioning her services".

Meanwhile, in a written statement, the state minister said, “My sister is a BPS-19 officer doing her PhD in terrorism and Fata. She has cleared her PhD thesis and only the result is left. She has done 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 specialization in terrorism. Many others gave interviews too. She was not the only one. Also, Nacta always takes people from other government departments, as they don't have their own people. Has nothing to do with some preferential treatment. My sister was an officer before me all her life. If the minister’s family people are competent. Should they leave Pakistan because there is no place for them in Pakistan? Also, she is taken on deputation from one department to another. Was she at home… jobless and given this position?

I'm really proud of my sister, as she was at number 3 in her MPhil. If she wants to serve Pakistan, it’s her birthright.”