ISLAMABAD - Abdur Rauf Chaudhry, Chairman of the commission formed to appoint heads of public sector organisations, has recommended to higher authorities to look for his replacement, arguing he was not in a position to chair proceedings of the body on regular basis.

The whole issue took new turn when Supreme Court recently directed National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to include Abdur Rauf Chaudhry in investigation of the NICL scam.

When contacted by this correspondent, Abdul Rauf Chaudhry said that he had been on leave for three weeks since November 25. In the same case, NAB is starting investigation against its Chairman Qamar-ul-zaman Chaudhry, who is also on three weeks leave, which may be extended further, it was learnt.

“I can’t continue proceedings of commission on regular basis. This is what I have conveyed to secretary establishment. He can appoint another official as chairman,” Chaudhry said, adding that the commission has recommended three main appointments including chairman PIA, Chairman NEPRA, and chairman PTA on utterly merit basis, which the Prime Minister Secretariat has approved and appointed the recommended candidates. He added there was not political pressure from any side on the commission.

Since its establishment in July 2013, the commission, which was established to appoint heads of 30 public sector organisations could only appoint heads of three organisations including PIA, NEPRA and PTA.

However, taking a step towards non-privatisation, the kitchen cabinet of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is learnt to have agreed in principal to appoint brilliant officers as heads of public sector organisations, sources privy to Prime Minister Secretariat revealed to The Nation. They, however, were pretty sure that some of public sector organisations where top brass of the government would not be interested to place officers would go into the basket of privatisation process.

The consistent hold-up in appointing heads in public sector institutions is these days is resulting in chaos and administrative problems in these entities. The Prime Minister established the commission in July 2013 with Federal Tax Ombudsman Abdul Rauf Chaudhry as chairman and Shams Qasim Lakha and Dr Ajaz Nabi as members.

Most of the organisations are facing various problems due to lack of permanent heads. “Most of the officers ask us if heads are not being appointed deliberately so that these units could be privatised,” said an official of the ministry.

According to sources in PM Secretariat, there are disputes between the senior officials of PM secretariat and the established commission on appointments of the heads in public sector institution.

The commission has convened some meeting to discuss the outcome of government’s decision to eradicate the upper age limit and other things for candidates to be appointed as CEOs and chairpersons of the publicly owned entities and the authoritarian bodies.

An official of the commission said that PML-N government wanted to appoint some blue-eyed bureaucrats in these organisations, and they are just waiting for the retirement of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, and only afterwards the process of appointments will be speedy.

Some of the key national institutions and departments, which are being run by the acting heads including Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), Pakistan Electric Power Company (Pepco), the National Power Construction Company, National Transmission and Dispatch Company, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), National Insurance Company Limited (NICL), National Fertiliser Corporation (NFC), Pakistan State Oil (PSO), Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL), Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL), Sui Southern Gas Company Limited (SSGCL), Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC) and Pakistan Steel.

Sources close to a chairman of the commission said that after relaxation in the upper age limit, some senior officials of PM Secretariat want to appoint their blue-eyed guys, which has resulted in causing delay in the process of selection. The Nation has learnt on good authority that chairman of commission has refused to accept any recommendation from the higher authorities of PM Secretariat and refused to appoint any blue-eyed bureaucrat.

The commission is responsible for short-listing candidates to head these public sector institutions, including regulatory bodies, but the delay is taking its toll. Some of these institutions have strategic importance including PSO, Pepco, OGDCL, SNGPL, SSGCL, PMDC and Pakistan Steel.