Institutions also need attention | Pakistan Today

Institutions also need attention

  • Institutions which lose priority are on the road to ruin

By: Muhammad Zahid Rifat

A number of institutions have been established and created at the federal and provincial levels from time to time. Such institutions are given and assigned specified and specialized tasks and responsibilities.

Such institutions so established and created enjoy priority from the respective federal and provincial governments. But such priority diminishes with the passage of time as Initial priorities are reduced and turned into lesser or no priorities . Institutions which start suffering from low or no priority or due attention, are seen withering away and going down the drain. Their decaying state quite obviously causes great disappointment and concern among those working in such institutions. The federal and provincial governments, as the time passes, forget that such institutions also need due and proper attention to continuing working and delivering according to the assigned tasks and responsibilities. How can any institution continue working and functioning properly and efficiently when there is no priority, no attention and accountability at all.

Will the prime minister order an inquiry into PNCA affairs to ensure transparency, accountability and merit to which his government is committed and save the great national institution from going down the drain?

One such national level  institution which is apparently suffering from lack of due priority and attention on the part of the federal government is the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA), Islamabad.

PNCA was set up in 1973 to spearhead the development of arts in Pakistan, to build a robust arts ecosystem by creating an environment conducive for the flourishing of the arts where the arts are accessible to everyone, and the artists as well as the art groups have and enjoy commitment, financial support and resources and are able to excel at home and on the world stage also.

PNCA, as per its assigned task, as such is responsible as the one and only national institution of its kind for promotion of culture, art, music, film and theatre.

Following its creation, the PNCA was placed under control of the Ministry of Culture, then after some years shifted to the Ministry of Information, Broadcasting, National History and Literary Heritage and now is under the National History and Literary Heritage Division. Such shifting and change of administratively controlling ministry after every some years, only indicated lack of due priority and attention of the federal government.

The incumbent Federal Education Minister, who hails from Lahore, holds the additional charge of the National History and Literary Heritage Division. According to the information available, he has not visited the National Art Gallery/PNCA even once all these months. This is a sad reflection on his lack of interest in the art and culture as such.

The First National Exhibition was also held in 1973 immediately after its establishment. It was supposed to be an annual feature but unfortunately only seven exhibitions were held in the first 42 years of its existence.

The 9th Annual Exhibition was held only in December 2017 after lapse of some 14 years.

Presently, the search for the new Director General of PNCA is on, after the last Director, Syed Jamal Shah, stepped down couple of weeks back. The National History and Literary Heritage Division had announced the vacancy first on the PNCA website and then in the national newspapers. The advertisement was reportedly published in only a couple of newspapers in a hush hush manner. As a matter of fact, it should have been published in all national Urdu and English dailies, since PNCA is a national art and culture institution and the interested candidates could come from any corner of the country.

The advertisement itself made interesting reading, as it did not mention pointedly that the  candidates applying for PNCA top slot should have adequate knowledge about visual and performing arts besides academic qualifications and experiences.

It said that the appointment would be made on contract basis for two years but the selected candidate shall cease to hold the office of the PNCA Director General on attaining the age of 65 years, while the maximum age limit for the prospective candidates was 63 years.

The prospective candidates, through the vacancy advertisement, were also required not to have been convicted/declared by competent court of law/authority of any offence of moral turpitude/ undischarged insolvent/insane or of unsound mind and not to have been dismissed from any services of Pakistan.

According to the reports, a former Director of the PNCA Visual Arts Division is in the race for the PNCA top slot.

She is being backed, supported and patronized by a Lahore-based relative of the Federal Minister, about 77 years old, as usual.

The aspiring candidate had a troubled career before she retired in 2016.

theShe was charge-sheeted in January 2014 on as many as 16 allegations attracting ,the major penalty of  dismissal of service as she had failed to provide her educational degrees to the PNCA despite the passage of several years, and for overstaying abroad and misguiding her organization on a number of occasions.

But she was not dismissed from service as she had managed to escape all this through her connections in higher echelons of power and continued in service enjoying all privileges and benefits till her retirement finally in 2016.

She is even debarred from applying for the top slot of PNCA as per the vacancy announcement provisions as such because she was only charge-sheeted and not dismissed from service consequently. However, the prevailing circumstances are  in her favour as she is enjoying all the support from the official and other quarters concerned. Will she be given another chance to run and ruin the great national institutions as she had been doing while she was previously there is another big question?

Besides her, there are other people working in the PNCA who are promoting themselves at the cost of the organization by supplying official documents containing a lot of secret information to the outsiders.

Will the prime minister order an inquiry into PNCA affairs to ensure transparency, accountability and merit to which his government is committed and save the great national institution from going down the drain?

The writer can be reached at [email protected]