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PM announces policy guidelines for foreign service

Top Story

February 14, 2016

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Also okays Rs400m for human rights awareness

By Muhammad Saleh Zaafir & Shoaib A Raja

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has approved policy guidelines over foreign appointments that will eliminate nepotism and unfairness in the service.

The prime minister has called for the adoption of policy guidelines over foreign appointments which will ensure transparency, merit and fairness. The guidelines would be followed in letter and spirit and focus on postings in Pakistan missions and against Pakistan’s positions at international, multilateral and regional organisations and bodies, said contents of a letter from the office of the Secretary to the Prime Minister (SPM) on Saturday. It has been issued under the signature of SPM Fawad Hasan Fawad. The policy guidelines enshrine that the ministry concerned or division in each case would ensure that the selection process is completely transparent and absolutely merit-based. Such transparency and merit shall be clearly visible from the processes, procedures and practices that are adopted for selection. The tenure fixed for each foreign post should be strictly followed and would not be extendable, the guidelines stated. An officer of identified services, cadres and occupational groups for any foreign post, will be eligible for two tenures of foreign posting in his entire service provided that there shall be an intervening period of at least three years between two such tenures.

No relaxation or exception to these policy guidelines should be granted without the prior approval of the prime minister for which the ministry concerned shall provide detailed justifications in a summary.

Failure to initiate and complete the process of selection of new officers, prior to completion of tenures of incumbents, shall be the personal responsibility of the secretary concerned. All foreign posts that are vacant and available or are likely to become vacant and available within one year of the date of circulation of such a vacancy, will be circulated amongst the officers of the identified services, cadres and occupational groups, clearly specifying eligibility criteria in terms of educational qualifications, experience, age and so forth. The services, cadres and occupational groups, eligible for selection against each foreign post, against which foreign posting is made, will be clearly defined and identified by the ministry concerned or division, keeping in view the job description and responsibility of each foreign post.

There shall be a precondition of passing a written qualifying test, and the test shall be organised by the ministry concerned through the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Lahore, or the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi. The minimum qualifying score in the written test will be set at 60 percent. The candidates qualifying the test will be called for an interview which would be conducted by a committee to be constituted with the approval of the prime minister. Eighty percent weightage will be given to the written test scores and 20 percent weight-age to the interview scores. No minimum passing marks shall be fixed for the interview and no candidates would be deemed to have failed in the selection process merely on the basis of his or her performance in the interview.

Successful candidates shall be given, in order of their merit, comprising of summation of scores in written test and interview, the option to choose the station of their choice from amongst circulated stations.

Meanwhile, sources told ‘The News’ that the prime minister is keen to streamline the working of the whole bureaucratic structure as policy guidelines would also be made about other ministries and divisions of the federal government. The provinces would also be urged to follow suit. The guidelines issued on Saturday have been widely appreciated by the officers and staff of the Foreign Office but the announcement of the policy has caused disquiet among the officers who will be affected by it. A sources said that ever since Fawad Hasan Fawad has assumed the assignment of the top bureaucrat in the Prime Minister Office, the rules and regulations are being adhered to in the strictest manner.

Later, the prime minister approved an amount of Rs400 million for human rights education, sensitisation, awareness, research and communication. Rs150 million shall be provided during the current financial year through a supplementary grant, while Rs250 million through budgetary allocations in Financial Year (FY) 2016-17.

The prime minister further approved an amount of Rs250 million for the National Institute of Human Rights. Rs100 million will be provided through PSDP allocations during the current FY and Rs150 million during FY2016-17.

The PM also approved an amount of Rs100 million for Endowment Fund during the current financial year, which will extend legal aid to the poor victims of human rights violations. He directed the Ministry of Human Rights to prepare detailed guidelines for a transparent use of the Endowment Fund.

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