By: Muzaffar Mukhtar
RAWALPINDI: There is a popular belief in our society that retired military officers, whatever their military qualifications may be, are capable of doing any job after retiring. It would seem they are also better qualified than Pakistani women to run the affairs of a prestigious women-only university.
A significant number of retired army officials have been hired to fill important administrative posts on lucrative contracts in Fatima Jinnah Women University (FJWU). The move is a clear violation of the Supreme Court verdict barring reemployment of retired government officials, which includes those who have served in the armed forces.
A university official The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity that the university has hired a significant number of retired army officers and is paying them salaries far higher than the salaries of permanent staff at equivalent posts.
Brigadier (retd) Abrar Hussain has been serving on important administrative posts in the university for more than a decade, he said, adding that the former army man is currently supervising multiple projects of the university. Currently project director and security in-charge of the university, he has also supervised administrative affairs of the planned new FJWU campus, the source added. The brigadier also served as head of the department of Computer Arts. In addition to that, he was also supervising the Information Technology Centre (ITC) a few years back.
For his services, he is compensated to the tune of over Rs200,000 per month, the university official added.
The source informed The Express Tribune that other retired officers such as Brigadier (retd) Azhar Kaleem Sharee and Lieutenant-Colonel (retd) Fiaz are also serving on important administrative posts. Lt Col Fiaz joined the university last year, the source added.
On the other hand, the source said that a few ‘civilians’ that had been working at the university for between two and five years did not get contract renewals on the grounds that the university has ended its policy of contractual hiring.
Yet, the retired soldiers face no such policy issues and their contract renewals are rubber stamped, the official said.
The source questioned why the university was violating its own announced policy of not taking on more contractual staffers or retaining existing ones by giving these retired army officers extension upon extension.
The official said the problem is not limited to FJWU and opined that such retired officers are draining the public exchequer as they collect state pensions along with substantial salaries from public sector universities, he added.
FJWU Vice Chancellor Dr Samina Amin Qadir said that there are only four retired army officials working on contract. She said that last year, the university syndicate decided that the contracts of these officials would be renewed for the next two years, after which their contracts would not be renewed.
“We were forced to take this decision because the university could not find proper candidates for the jobs,” she claimed.
We advertised for the vacant posts time and again but the candidates who applied could not fulfil the criteria set by the varsity, she added. She said the posts would be advertises again in July to ensure the selection of qualified candidates.
Dr Qadir also said that the university administration had to remain cautious in the selection of candidates because it is a women-only university.
It is very hard to find tried and trusted candidates to handle the affairs of the university as we must ensure the safety of our students, she said, adding that the retired officers were given extensions “because they are the people we can trust”.