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Unusual mix of candidates to replace outgoing auditor general

ISLAMABAD: The office of the auditor general of Pakistan (AGP) has proposed an unusual mix of four names, consisting of serving and retired officers, to fill the constitutional post which is due to fall vacant later this month with the retirement of incumbent AGP Rana Assad Amin.
Auditor General of Pakistan Rana Assad Amin is set to retire this month.

The list of names proposed as potential replacements for the outgoing AGP include Railways Secretary Perveen Agha, additional auditors general Haq Nawaz and Imran Iqbal, and a retired officer, Javed Jehangir.

However, Shagufta Khanum who is also a batch mate of both Mr Haq Nawaz and Mr Iqbal has apparently been ignored.

Usually, the finance ministry’s regulation wing the AGP’s administrative division moves a summary to the president through the finance secretary. Under the Constitution, the AGP has to act independently and has powers to scrutinise accounts and utilisation of funds for all arms of the federal and provincial governments literally each and every penny spent out of public monies.

This time, however, the summary has been moved by Ikram Khan, a director (administration) of the AGP, on the instructions of outgoing AGP Amin, which has been and routed through Economic Affairs Division secretary Tariq Pasha, bypassing Finance Secretary Tariq Bajwa
Retired officer among four names suggested by AGP office; summary not moved through traditional channels

The EAD secretary also holds the post of special assistant to the finance minister, and Anjum Assad Amin — the outgoing AGP’s spouse works as an additional secretary with Mr Pasha.

Sources privy to the development said that while the incumbent AGP may like to leave his legacy in the department, two other senior officers former finance secretary Dr Waqar Masood Khan and current finance secretary Tariq Bajwa could be the ultimate pick, being ‘in’ among the relevant quarters.

Mr Bajwa is set to reach the age of retirement in June this year and has a good rapport with the current regime.

Ms Agha, currently working as railways secretary, is the most senior officer of the Audit and Accounts group and has about 20 months before retirement. The sister of slain Karachi Electric Supply Company chief executive Shahid Hamid, she has an impeccable record and reputation.

Mr Haq Nawaz and Imran Iqbal, the two officers currently working as additional auditors general, also enjoy a good reputation among officers. Mr Haq Nawaz served as additional secretary finance until recently.

But Ms Khanum, an officer of equivalent seniority, has not been considered among the four names put forward by the AGP. This is reportedly due to her reputation of being “too stubborn and honest” to accommodate external pressure in audit matters.

Haq Nawaz, Imran Iqbal and Shagufta Khanum belong to the same 10th common group from 1982 are all grade 22 officers.

Instead, a former grade 22 officer, Javed Jehangir — who retired from the accounts service in November last year — has been included, ostensibly due to his Lahore connections.

Insiders say there were only two examples in the 157-year history of the AGP office when retired officers made it to the post, both times for political reasons.

One of them was S.K. Mehmood, an officer of the powerful District Management Group, who was chosen during the tenure of the first Pakistan Peoples Party government for his closeness with the Bhutto family. The outgoing AGP was the other such appointment.

Barring these exceptions, the senior-most officer of the Audit and Accounts group has always been appointed AGP by the president under Article 168 of the Constitution.

Courtesy : Dawn News

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