Despite an announcement regarding the dissolution of the Task Forces, out of existing 27, the Punjab government has so far denotified only six, while three have been merged into one, and reportedly, the money-saving measure is yet to bear fruits since the perks are still being dished out to the men behind these Forces.
Secondly, contrary to oft repeated claim that these forces were working on honorary basis, except three chairmen, that is, Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif (TF on Qabza Mafia), Hamza Shahbaz Sharif (TF on Jail Reforms) and Nadeem Babar (TF on Energy), every chairman has been given vehicle and petrol, while Rs 0.69 million have been paid each month to seven persons since the constitution of forces in 2008 and first quarter of 2009.
Dissolved TFs include Administrative and Financial Efficiency (headed by S. Farogh Naveed, and Wiqar A. Khan as member) two on Promotion of Sports (Niva Usman Umer and Ijaz Gull), Promotion of Sports in Urban and Rural Areas (Ch Muhammad Yaqoob), Introduction of Information Technology System in District Level Offices (Nadeem Haque) and Pakistani Community in the UK (Zubair Gull). Out of these, only Ch Yaqoob was working on honorary basis though was given 1300CC car and 200 litres petrol per month, while the rest were having salaried chairmen. However, another paid Chairman of Task Force on Information Technology System District Level Offices Nadeem Haq is still on job, while like others, he is having car and petrol.
Moreover, 14 chairmen each have been allowed to use 1300CC cars and allocation of 200 litres petrol, while four each have 1000CC vehicles and 150 litres petrol every month. There is one exception of friend-cum-foe of the PML-N ex-Governor Punjab Ghulam Mustafa Khar – Chairman TF on Wild Life – who was given Land Rover 2500CC, and facility of unlimited usage of petrol.
S. Farogh Naveed and Wiqar A. Khan each were given two 1600CC vehicles, allowed 340 litres petrol per month, and pay of Rs 1,95,0000, which made them the highest salaried persons in this regard. Their task force was notified on July 16, 2008, and dissolved on August 20, 2010. However, no report of their Task Force is available with the Services and General Administration Department. “We did ask, but were sternly told that it had been submitted to the Chief Minister,” confided an S&GAD officer, seeking anonymity.
Like wise, Neva Usman, Ijaz Gull, Zubair Gull and Dr Awais Farooqi each have been given Rs 75,000 each month since 2008. Dr Farooqi TF on Parks and Horticulture is said to have been dissolved sans notification.
Beside certain brightest brains of their respective fields, this head of TFs seemed to have been used for dishing out political favours since two MNAs – Hamza Shahbaz Sharif as well – nine MPAs and a host of other political cronies were obliged through this exercise.
MPA Col (r) Shuja Khanzada was appointed as Chairman of three Task Forces, that is, Substandard and Spurious Agri Pesticides/Fertilizers, Long/Short-Term Strategy on BT Cotton, and Development of Vegetables, Pulses and Flowers. On August 20 this year, these three have been merged into one with a cumulative name having all ingredients. However, he is being given one 1300CC car and 200 litres petrol since 2008.
“The calculations regarding cost of petrol – owing to repeated fluctuations in prices – and repair and maintenance of vehicles cannot be made in one go, and perhaps another task force is required to do so. Certainly, it has cost a huge sum to the public kitty with zero-sum results,” averred the officer when he was quizzed about any exercise done in this regard ‘since vehicles are still with the Chairmen and members.’
However, questions remain to be answered are: What was the positive outcome of much-controversial forces, which became political muscles and less of brains for the govt, and caused dent to public exchequer? Were the desired objectives achieved? Why were parliamentarians and political pals given these slots? Will reports either submitted by these forces or prepared by the govt be ever released?