Seniors under juniors: Appointment of archeology dept director draws flak

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Dr Muhammad Nasim Khan, a BPS-21 grade officer who was serving as the Institute of Archeology and Anthropology director at the University of Peshawar, will now head the K-P Archeology Department. He will be the most senior official in the unit.

The establishment department issued a notification for the post on August 29 after it fell vacant following Dr Shah Nazar Khan’s retirement in April. The administration had put forth three names, including Nasim’s, Dr Abdul Samad (BPS-19) and Hazara University’s head of the archeology department, Nidaullah Sehrai (BPS-18).

Department of Tourism, Sports, Archaeology, Museums and Youth Affairs in its summary to the chief minister recommended Dr Nasim as the most suitable candidate for the position. The summary also requested to upgrade the post to BPS-21.

According to the department’s criteria, candidates must have at least seven years of experience or 12 years of government service at a BPS-17 post or above. Appointments can also be made through transfers or deputation if no suitable candidate is available.

Inside out

A source familiar with the matter told The Express Tribune the new archeology director will be reporting to the secretary, who is a BPS-20 grade official. He pointed out there have been a few cases where a BPS-20 grade officer served under a junior ranked official. However, a BPS-21 officer cannot work under such circumstances, claimed the source.

Other insiders said Dr Nasim was initially not among those being considered for the position. His name was later included and endorsed by the establishment department under political pressure, they alleged.

Cultural Heritage Council (CHC), a Peshawar-based civil society organisation, also criticised the move to appoint Dr Nasim as the new archaeology director. CHC General Secretary Shakil Waheedullah Khan said in a statement the case was an example of a political appointment at the expense of merit.

“On the one hand, the government was claiming to reduce expenditure, while on the other, upgrading the director’s position to BPS-21 will lead to excess spending of tens of thousands of rupees,” Waheedullah argued.

However, an archaeology department official requesting anonymity snubbed criticism against Dr Nasim’s appointment, arguing he was selected based on seniority. He claimed the post had been previously upgraded to BPS-21 for the appointment of Dr Shah Nazar Khan and Dr Ihsan Ali, who were both BPS-21 officers.

“It was not illegal to appoint a senior officer to a junior post and the competent authority can do so,” said the source.

Location: Peshawar

Source: The Express TRIBUNE