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October 9, 2019

Maj-Gen Saad Khattak withdraws his petition against govt

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October 9, 2019

Major General (retd) Muhammad Saad Khattak. File photo

ISLAMABAD: Major General (retd) Muhammad Saad Khattak, in a surprise move, withdrew his petition against the PTI government from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Tuesday without citing any reason. This abrupt decision of withdrawing the petition has been taken after media reported that the federal cabinet has rejected his nomination for the post of Pakistan’s high commissioner to Sri Lanka. According to the retired general, it was Defence Minister Pervez Khattak who earlier blocked his appointment as chairman Evacuee Property Trust Board (ETPB) and then as a high commissioner to Sri Lanka.

More: Who opposed Gen Saad Khattak’s name for Pak HC in Sri Lanka?

Khattak’s name for the post of Pakistan’s high commissioner to Sri Lanka was forwarded by General Headquarters. However, Prime Minister Imran Khan rejected this name after some cabinet members raised objections. This move is unprecedented, as no civilian government has ever rejected any name recommended by the GHQ.

The prime minister has a quota of 20 percent appointments of non-career diplomats as envoys. Out of this quota, five to six slots are allotted to armed forces. Normally, the armed forces appoint a retired officer as ambassador or high commissioner in Sri Lanka, Brunei, Nigeria, Ukraine and occasionally in Saudi Arabia as well. Previously, no civilian government has ever rejected the GHQ recommended name for the post of ambassador or high commissioner. “The apparent reason of rejection of GHQ’s recommendation by Prime Minister Imran Khan is Maj Gen (retd) Khattak’s case against the federal government which is removed now after he withdrew the petition. Now it will be interesting to see whether Imran Khan approves his name for the post of Pakistan’s high commissioner to Sri Lanka or not,” commented a well-placed source. It is pertinent to mention here that the retired general filed a petition in the IHC against Imran Khan’s government for not appointing him the chairman of ETPB despite being on top of the merit list. During the hearing of this case, the IH sent notices to the federal government and directed to submit their replies.

Interestingly, the date for hearing of Khattak’s case was fixed on Tuesday. The same day, media reported about the rejection of his name for the post of high commissioner to Sri Lanka. However, instead of pursuing his case, the counsel for General Khattak received directions from him to withdraw the petition. When The News contacted General Saad (retd) Khattak to know the reason of the abrupt move, he said he doesn’t want to talk to this scribe and hung up the phone.

The retired general leveled serious allegations against Imran Khan’s government in his petition and claimed it to be promoting nepotism and favouritism. Such an act would result into bad governance and promote culture of corruption, said the petition. According to sources, when Maj Gen Khattak’s name was brought in front of cabinet for its approval, Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak strongly opposed it and informed the prime minister about these allegations levelled by the retired general officer. The withdrawal of the petition from the IHC might be an attempt to please the government, believe the sources.

Khattak in his petition said, “After securing highest marks in terms of qualification, skills, experience and suitability, and being top on merit list, a vested right is created in favour of petitioner and he was to be appointed for applied post but to utter surprise of petitioner, respondent No.6 (Dr. Aamer Ahmed), who has retired in the month of March 2019 from the post of federal secretary, has been appointed on the post of chairman ETPB, vide Notification No.1/9/2005-E-6 dated 23-04-19, no reasoning whatsoever has been mentioned for doing this pick & chose policy for the blue eyed and petitioner despite being on top of the merit list who was denied his fundamental right without any justification and reason and all this malafide exercise was carried out in order to accommodate respondent No.6, who was in service (special secretary interior) when the said post was advertised.”

The petition said, “The said action is also violation of Article 27 of Constitution of Pakistan which provide protection and safe guard against discrimination in service hence the appointment of respondent No.6 is glaring example of misuse of authority and flagrant violation of merit policy which requires interference by this court to protect the right of petitioner under its constitutional jurisdiction.” Khattak’s petition further said when the merit and fairness have been sacrificed at the altar of favouritism and nepotism, then such act would result into bad governance and promote culture of corruption as held by the High Court Quetta in its citation reported as 2011 PLC(CS) 548.

“The impugned appointment letter dated 23-04-19 is issued by respondents in gross violation of the law, merit, rules, regulation, hence the same is liable to be declared as illegal, unlawful and ineffective upon the right of petitioner. The denial of petitioner's fundamental right is a result of colourful exercise of power and actions beyond the authority, therefore the same being against the principle of law and natural justice is not sustainable. The appointment of respondent No.6 through impugned notification dated 23-04-19 by authority is result of colourful exercise, based on malafide, ill-will, utter violation of merit policy and same is corum non-judice & without jurisdiction, power,” the petition said.

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