ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Agriculture Research Council (PARC), an attached department of the Ministry of National Food Security and Research, has reinstated officials who were earlier fired on corruption charges.
Former project director olive Dr Nasir Mahmood Cheema and senior account officer Sakit Saleem were fired by the department after they were found guilty of corruption in an olive project.
The olive project was started with the aim of promoting olive cultivation in the country and for this purpose high-quality plants worth millions of rupees were imported from other countries.
Dr Cheema embezzled millions of rupees through tampering and using duplicate papers for plant imports. In addition to this, he along with his accomplice, Saleem, opened a fake bank account in Loralai in March 2015 under the name of Raziya Sultana, who was the mother of one department employee named Tahir Jamshed. Meanwhile, they won the tender on Kaista Khan Enterprises and transferred Rs100.64 million to this account.
The matter surfaced in 2016-17 and subsequently, a committee headed by NARC DG confirmed the corruption in its report and suggested that the officials involved in this scam be compulsorily retired. Furthermore, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) also confirmed the corruption in this project.
Later, the officials wrote to the former minister for national food security and research Sikandar Boson and requested that they should be reinstated. The minister accepted their appeal without listening to the counsel and soon their reinstatement letters were issued. However, former PARC chairman refused to implement the minister’s orders.
Sources told this scribe that the officials then moved the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against the non-implementation of the minister’s orders but they could not get any relief from the court either as it directed the ministry to get approval for the reinstatement order in the meeting of the board of directors.
However, the PARC chairman reinstated the officials without informing the BoD and this caused one of his close aides to tender his resignation, sources added.
Speaking to Pakistan Today, PARC Chairman Dr Azeem said that in 2018, the appellate authority had set aside the decision of the previous PARC chairman. “The officials were reinstated in the light of the authority’s decision,” he added.
“The board of directors is a policy forum and not an appellate or competent authority. The court had only observed that if the competent authority (PARC chairman) was not implementing the decision, the board of directors could be involved for intervention,” he concluded.