ISLAMABAD - Despite passing more than six months in power, the incumbent government has yet to decide whether to follow the Islamabad High Court’s order regarding the appointment of Capital Development Authority chairman and other board members or not.

The indecisiveness on the part of federal government is not only causing embarrassment to it before the court of law where a couple of contempt petitions are pending, but also creating uncertainty, which is affecting day to day affairs of the civic body.

The CDA board consists of chairman, member finance and accounts, member administration, member planning and design, member engineering, member environment and member estate. The commissioners of Rawalpindi and Islamabad are also ex-officio members.

Recently, after a standoff with previous chairman CDA Afzal Latif on the regularisation of Bani Gala and Grand Hayat Tower, the federal government under the stopgap arrangement appointed a grade-20 officer Amir Ali Ahmed as Chairman CDA apparently because he was already an ex-officio board member of CDA being the chief commissioner Islamabad. 

 However, the federal government is reluctant to appoint or even post out any board member due to aforementioned legal lacuna. There is no permanent Member Planning and a Director General Hafiz Ahsan-ul-Haq is looking after the affairs of Planning Wing ‘half-heartedly’.

Member Finance Dr Fahad Aziz is a few months away from completion of his three years deputation period in CDA but he is uncertain about his extension. Member Engineering Hafiz Dr Ahmed Bakhsh is also unable to perform his duties smoothly due to his standoff with senior most officers of Engineering Wing who challenged his appointment in IHC.

Member Administration Asadullah Khan is on leave and Kushal Khan is performing his duties in addition to his own charge of member estate.

According to sources, the government is not posting out Kushal Khan from CDA due to the legal embargo despite the fact that an inquiry regarding tainted restoration of a plot at Sector D-12 was also going on against him in the NAB.   

While ousting Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz from the office of Chairman CDA in December 2017, the IHC had ruled that a government servant cannot hold the office of CDA chairman and directed the government to appoint new chairman through a competitive process.

IHC Judge Athar Minallah had announced the judgement in a case related to the appointment of Mayor Sheikh Anser Aziz, who was first made an acting member and then chairman of the CDA.

In its order, the court declared that it is an obvious legislative intent and implicit in the scheme of the ordinance of 1960 that qualified and competent persons of integrity, having expertise in the relevant fields are to be appointed as member of the [CDA] board.

The previous government of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz had decided to confront the court order by amending the civic body’s ordinance and promulgated a presidential ordinance paving the way for civil servants to hold the top offices in CDA. 

However, when the ordinance was about to expire, the then federal minister for Capital Administration and Development Division (CADD) Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry in May 2017 got a resolution passed from parliament, providing a new life of 120 days to the presidential ordinance, which expired last year as well. Though, the incumbent government of Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf had decided to appoint a professional on merit through a competitive process as per the ruling of IHC, the decision has not been materialised yet. 

 When contacted by the Nation, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on CDA Affairs Ali Nawaz Awan informed that the Establishment Division is working on different proposals to appoint a permanent CDA chief but the final approval in this regard would be given by the federal cabinet.  

 “I am not sure whether the Establishment Division would purpose appointment of Chairman CDA through competitive process according to court orders or from the civil servants by amending existing law”, he added.