Musharraf’s Army Buddy Challenges Him in Top Pakistan Court

FPSC’s Akram(Top,L), Gul Hanif, Gen. Gulzar (C), Justice A. Rehman and Tariq S. Haroon

By M T Butt

ISLAMABAD, September 4: A former Army buddy of General Musharraf, who was appointed Corps Commander of the all-sensitive Rawalpindi Corps shortly after the 1999 coup, has turned against his former boss to the extent that on Friday he filed a petition in the High Court accusing Musharraf of misusing his powers.

Lt General Jamshed Gulzar Kiyani, known during his military tenure as an upright and honest officer, was appointed Chairman of the Federal Public Service Commission of Pakistan for 5 years after his retirement from the Army in 2003. It was a constitutional tenure post and Musharraf thought he would be compliant and accommodate all his legal and illegal demands to post favorites on key positions of Government.

But General Gulzar Kiyani turned out to be a tough cookie. Since he knew Musharraf well, including his weaknesses and strengths, he started taking principled positions on important appointments and always stood in the way of appointment of cronies, whether from the civil or military background.

Soon Musharraf and his powerless Prime Minister were confronted with an institution which became a hurdle in their political designs to reward crooks in return for their support.

The Federal Public Service Commission, under General Gulzar Kiyani, turned down several key appointments and in two annual reports criticized the Government for bypassing the FPSC and bulldozing its way, but Musharraf and Shaukat Aziz did not listen to Gulzar Kiyani.

At least six officials including Maj Gen (r) Agha Masood, DG Post Office; Brig (r) Maqsoodul Hasan, DG Federal Education Directorate; Dr Fazle Hadi, ED PIMS; Chairman NADRA Brig (r) Saleem; Aziz Khan, Pakistan’s High Commissioner in India, were given extensions in their contract beyond two years in violation of the FPSC ordinance and without getting NoCs from the FPSC.

General Gulzar Kiyani kept continuously embarrassing Musharraf and Aziz, but shamelessly, instead of listening to the sound advice, they acted illegally against the General and tried to throw him out of office earlier than his legal tenure.

Last week, on Aug 27, Musharraf issued an Ordinance to cut the tenure of General Gulzar Kiyani and other FPSC members from 5 to 3 years so that he could get rid of this pain in the butt. But even that move has now backfired.

On Friday, Sept 2, 2005, Gulzar Kiyani and four out of seven members of the FPSC filed a constitutional petition in the Lahore High Court challenging Musharraf’s ordinance as mala fide, illegal and unconstitutional. It is the first legal challenge to Musharraf by one of his own colleagues, though now a retired General but on an important position of power.

“The President and the Prime Minister could not countenance the independent and conscientious working of the petitioners for long and decided to cut short the tenure of the petitioners and removed them by promulgating an Ordinance just two days before the National Assembly Session which was convened for 29th August, 2005,” said the constitutional petition, also seeking stay against the implementation of the said Ordinance.

Filed through senior Advocate Muhammad Akram Sheikh the petitioners Lt Gen (Retd) Jamshed Gulzar Kiyani, chairman FPSC, Gul Hanif, member FPSC, Justice (Retd) Abdur Rehman Khan, member FPSC, Javed Akram, member FPSC and Tariq Saeed Haroon, member FPSC made Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and Secretaries of the Establishment Division and Law as respondents.

“The effect of this mala fide and colourable exercise is that the petitioners Mr Gul Hanif,, Justice (r) Abdur Rehman Khan and Javed Akram will cease to be members of FPSC forthwith while Mr Tariq Saeed Haroon on 1-12-2005 and the petitioner Lt Gen (r) Jamshed Gulzar Kiyani shall cease to be the Chairman FPSC on 30-3-2006,” read the petition filed before LHC Rawalpindi Bench.

While the tenure for which the petitioners were appointed as Members of FPSC has not yet elapsed, the petition said, the President promulgated the FPSC (amendment) Ordinance 2005 to cut their tenure from five to three years. The said ordinance, the petitioners said, has been made with mala fide as a consequence of the petitioners having faithfully acted in the spirit of the oath of their office. The petitioners, the petition said, performed their duties in the true spirit of their oath to uphold the law and the rules governing their functions.

The chairman, it added, resisted any violation of laws and rules and took up such issue with the Prime Minister or the President as the case may be. “The first such case arose soon after the chairman assumed office when the then Prime Minister Zafarullah Jamali ordered the promotion of one Major (r) Muhammad Habib Khan, an officer of the police service of Pakistan, from BS-20 to BS-21, who had already been superseded twice in the years 2000 & 2002, contrary to the recommendation of the Central Selection Board (CSB) not to promote him.

The petitioner/chairman brought this to the notice of the President personally. Subsequently in January 2005 the petitioner/Chairman brought to the notice of the President a further case of violation when the Prime Minister disregarded the recommendations of the CSB held in the year 2004, regarding promotion of Maj (r) Fateh Sher and Mr Zafar Iqbal Qureshi, two officers of the Police Service of Pakistan, from BS-19 to BS-20 and instead promoted on Capt (r) Zafar Ahmad Qureshi, who had not been even discussed for promotion by the CSB and one Mr Zafar Abbas Lak, who was considered by the Board but deferred because of a pending NAB inquiry.”

The Prime Minister, the petition said, in case of disagreement with the CSB was required to refer the case back to the CSB as provided under the rules but it was never done.

“The petitioner/chairman also took up the issue of repeated extensions of contract appointments in the Federal Government. He and the other petitioners in their capacity as Members of the Commission expressed serious reservations about the practice of indiscriminate recruitment of retired government servants both from the civil administration and the defense services to higher posts in the civil service on the principle that such contract appointments block promotion of junior officers causing frustration amongst them and in many cases violate rules of appointment,” the petition said.

Analysts in Islamabad said Musharraf was confronted with a serious legal challenge as the petitioners were insiders, both from the Army and the Establishment and had challenged the authority knowing full well the consequences.

“The High Court judges will now be under severe pressure because if they reject the petition, they would be changing the rules of their own employment and tenures, since FPSC members have similar constitutional protections as judges,” a legal expert said.

“But if they declare the law passed by Musharraf as void, the General and his intelligence goons would be after them, making life miserable. But they have a great chance to restore some credibility of the judiciary.”

The media has been reporting regularly on General Gulzar Kiyani’s confrontation with Musharraf and Aziz. One crusading journalist who chronicled the excesses of the Government is Ansar Abbasi, Bureau Chief of The News in Islamabad. According to one of his reports the following cases of irregularities, favoritism and illegal appointments were rejected by the Federal Public Service Commission:

* In the very first week of his coming into power, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz approved an extension in the contract period of Maj Gen (r) Agha Masood Hassan as DG Post Office for the fifth year, subject to the mandatory consent of the Federal Public Service Commission as provided in the FPSC Ordinance. When the case was referred to it, the FPSC did not issue the NoC and ruled that the General’s previous extensions were also illegal. Following this, the prime minister, instead of sending the officer home, gave him a two-year extension.

* In the first week of September, the Prime Minister ordered the creation of six new federal ministries taking the total number of such entities to an all-time high of 39. This was done to induct the largest ever cabinet of 59 ministers and ministers of state. Goals and targets were set for the ministers and ministers of state but they were never reviewed despite the prime minister’s resolve that the performance of the ministers would be reviewed quarterly and those not performing well would be shown the door.

* In September 2004, the prime minister directed the recreation of the condemned public affairs wing of the prime minister’s secretariat, which in the past had been making politicized appointments in government departments on the recommendation of MPs. The said wing was later formally set-up to commence the condemned practice of making politicized appointments. On the order of the Establishment Division, all federal agencies including the ministries and divisions were formally barred from making appointments against lower scale jobs without getting NoCs from the PM secretariat whose public affairs wing was tasked to get the nominees of government MPs appointed against the fixed quota informally allocated for each of them.

* In October, the Aziz government decided to purchase a fleet of 30 high-priced high-tech bullet-proof Mercedes Benz for the country’s VVIPs. This cost the national exchequer more than Rs 3 billion. Later, 30 Limousines, each costing at least Rs 70 million, were ordered but following media controversy on the issue, the purchase order of 20 Mercedes was cancelled.

* In November, the Establishment Division moved a case for the PM’s approval for the appointment of Major General (r) Asif Bukhari as head of civil service reform unit (CSRU) ignoring both the set criteria and procedure. The PM approved the summary, surpassing the laid down procedure jointly evolved by the government and the donors, and later approved by the ECNEC. The appointment was to be made through a transparent procedure and by inviting the applications of the interesting candidates through media advertisement. Advertisements were given, applications were received and short listed. But out of nowhere the general was appointed despite not even being an applicant against the job advertised earlier. The World Bank conveyed its displeasure over this appointment.

* In November, following the PM’s order, the Establishment Division issued notifications for the appointment of 13 federal secretaries, one additional secretary incharge and five additional secretaries while three others including two federal secretaries and one additional secretary incharge were made OSD. The reshuffle was made without taking into consideration the officer’s qualification, expertise and experience. Except in one case, none of the federal secretaries transferred had completed their three-year tenure. Moreover, at least 16 of the total 19 officers — secretaries and additional secretaries — were given key assignments in the federal secretariat and had never served in the divisions that they were asked to lead.

* In December, the PM appointed Tariq Pervez as Director General, Federal Investigation Agency (DG FIA) bypassing at least six of his seniors, which turned the organization’s hierarchy topsy-turvy. Some of the seniors opted to go on leave, a few managed to get themselves posted out of the FIA while others are still serving in the FIA under their junior colleague.

* In January 2005, the PM overruled the high-powered central selection board in violation of the promotion policy, to promote two police officers as Deputy Inspector General dropping the two officers who were unanimously cleared by the CSB. One of the two promoted officers was the brother of a sitting government MP and parliamentary secretary. He was never considered by the CSB as he was down on the seniority list while the other official, closely related to the Choudhries of Gujrat, was deferred by the board for facing an inquiry pending before the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Punjab. This led to a serious controversy as both the chairman CSB and an elite intelligence agency approached the President over these violations. The President asked the PM to review the matter. Later the PM withdrew his approval in case of the officer who was never considered for promotion by the CSB but the promotion of the one who was recommended for deferment was notified.

* In January, the PM approved an increase of Rs 35,000 to 40,000 in the salaries and house rent allowance of the federal ministers and ministers of states. Besides a raise of 15% in the name of “ad hoc relief” the house rent allowance was approved to be raised from the then Rs 40,000 to Rs 75,000 in case of federal ministers and Rs 70,000 in case of ministers of state. However, after the issue was taken up by the media, the President agreed to raise this house rent allowance to Rs 50,000 only.

* In May this year, the PM through his cabinet approved an amendment in the FPSC Ordinance to slash the Commission’s authority to allow contract appointments against civil posts beyond two years. The proposed amendment, yet to be tabled before the parliament, was sought after the Commission’s consistent refusal to issue NoC to even retired generals. At least six officials including Maj Gen (r) Agha Masood, DG Post Office; Brig (r) Maqsoodul Hasan, DG federal education directorate; Dr Fazle Hadi, ED PIMS; Chairman NADRA Brig (r) Saleem; Aziz Khan, Pakistan’s High Commissioner in India etc were given extensions in their contract beyond two years in violation of the FPSC ordinance and without getting NoCs from the FPSC.

* In August this year, the Establishment Division initiated yet another proposed amendment in the FPSC Ordinance aimed at slashing the tenure of the Chairman and Members of the FPSC from existing five years to three years. This is being done to “sort out” the chairman FPSC, who is also the chairman of the CSB, for not dancing to the government’s tunes. Relations between the chairman and the government are really tense after the former refused to flex rules for the “blue-eyed boys”.

* During the last 12 months many of the retiring federal secretaries were re-employed in contrast to the government’s strict policy on re-employment. This massive re-employment has disappointed the civil bureaucracy as the serving lot sees their career prospects diminished because of excessive intrusion of outsiders against their cadre posts.

Pakistan is in dire need of strong civilian institutions that could deliver to the masses without any fear or pressure, Abbasi reported. “This kind of institution building is only possible if we start respecting law. And law can only be respected and upheld when rulers act according to the law. Otherwise we will continue to have the rule of the jungle.”

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