Florida, USA: (Shoukat Zardari) When ones talk about financial corruption within the Sindh government’s departments, then there are only two departments where financial corruption goes on without having proper check and balance. Interestingly, the ministers and advisors, who were or who are assigned the portfolio of information and archives department have become billionaire.

The massive corruption of Sindh’s information department was highlighted when the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) launched investigations against its former minister Sharjeel Inam Memon and allegedly found him involved in billions of rupees financial embezzlement and Mr. Memon is presently on bail.

Besides financial corruption, the caretaker government in early 2013
had appointed at least 42 controversial information officers of BPS-17 directly bypassing the Sindh Public Service Commission (SPSC). Interestingly, these appointments were also the violation of ban imposed by the Election Commission of Pakistan.

Soon after their appointment in BPS-17, the Accountant General Sindh office objected on the recruitment process and forwarded a letter No: CAA-IV/2012-2013/Contract Appt./6691 to Secretary, Service General Administration and Coordination Department.

“The policy of the Services General Administration and Coordination Department on the matter,  including clarification regarding ban period is still awaited. In this regard, the necessary clarification was also sought from the Election Commission of Pakistan, which has been received vide Election Commission of Pakistan No F.2(2)/2013-Cord Islamabad dated June 27, 2013”, according to sources.

Initially, the advertisement published in the local dailies with a condition that the candidates must have MA in Mass Communication was changed to adjust blue eyed candidates with  the new academic qualification condition of MA Social Sciences. The interviews for the jobs were held secretly, however the electronic media reported the news that the interviews continued till late in the night. These information officers were appointed purely on contract basis for a period of two years while they received salaries from the secret funds of the information department for months. Again, these contractual employees were given one year extension in their contract by former Secretary Information Zulfikar Shalwani.

The contractual employees and their political affiliations include: Shahrukh Shah (relative of MNA Khursheed Shah), Shakeel Haque Memon (son of Director Advertisement Yasmeen Memon & Cousin of Sharjeel Inam Memon), Aamir Raza (son of PPP leader), Mrs Keenjhar Fayaz (wife of PPP leader), Adnan Khan (relative of PPP leader), Abbas Ali Shah (son of PPP leader), Ms Sabin Farooq (on MQM quota from Hyderabad), Abdul Qayoom Solangi (son of PPP leader), Ullab Ali (son of PPP leader), Mohsin Hassan (PPP’s photographer Zahid Hussein’s son), Ghulam Mustafa Shah (son of PPP leader), Ali Ahmed (son of PPP leader), Kamran Ahmed (son of PPP leader),
Ali Murad Pitafi (relative of PPP MPA Imdad Pitafi), Raheem Bux (son of PPP leader), Shabbir Ali (MQM quota), Sajid Ali Qureshi (son of PPP leader), Waheedullah Maitlo (son of PPP leader), Nawaz Ali alias Danish Memon (cousin of Sharjeel Memon), Syed Shahrukh Ali Shah (son of PPP leader), Sarfaraz Samo (son of PPP leader), Ms Sharmeen Shafiq Khan (daughter of PPP leader), Hassan Latif (son of PPP leader with MA Economics), Imdad Ali (son of PPP leader), Syed Aijaz Rasool Shah (PPP quota), Zeeshan Ali (son of ex-MPA PPP Qambar Ali Leghari), Jan Muhammad (son of PPP leader), Aijaz Khokhar (friend of Sharjeel Memon), Asif Ali Dero (son of PPP leader), Ghulam Raza (MQM quota), Muhammad Hussain (PPP quota), Abdul Wahab (PPP quota), Javed Hussain Mehar (PPP quota), Mairaj Ahmed Khan (PPP quota), Zubair Ahmed Memon (cousin of Sharjeel Memon and Director Yasmeen Memon), Liaquat Ali (relative of PPP MNA Rafiq Jamali), Irfan Ali (PPP quota) and Ali Ahmed (brother of Director Mansoor Rajput).

These all controversial information officers have been regularized and given the most lucrative posts by replacing the dedicated and committed officers like Sarang Latif Chandio, Zeenat Jehan, Meer Alam Jokhio, Atif Vighio and many others.

Interestingly, when PPP’s Maula Bux Chandio’s took over the department as its advisor, his blue-eyed officials enjoyed ‘most lucrative’ posts with the powers to draw funds under various heads in the Sindh Information and archives department.

According to insiders, Yasmeen Memon, who remained Director Advertisement and Mansoor Ahmed Shaikh who was Director Film, enjoyed lucrative posts of the department since long. Director Advertisement Yasmeen Memon has held post of Director Publications since 2008. Ms Yasmeen Memon is the aunt of former information and archives minister Sharjeel Inam Memon.

Reportedly, Maula Bux Chandio tried to transfer Director Publication and appoint another officer, however, the plan was suddenly changed, as Director Yasmeen Memon allegedly paid one million rupees to the family member of Maula Bux Chandio. The Directorate of Publication has millions of rupees budget and it is assigned to get published monthly magazine namely Izhar and Pegham for which a bungalow has been rented out in city’s posh area. “The magazines are not being published on regular basis while the funds are shown utilized, while the funds are reportedly being used by the advisor information.

The magazines get only  published on special occasion, such as anniversary of Benazir Bhutto Shaheed, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Urs of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai, Sachal Sarmast and Hazrat Lal Shahbaz Qalandar”, sources added.

Moreover, the Directorate of Publication had sent fake bills to the Accountant General Sindh under the head of Essay Writing for the Magazines in 2015-16, sources say. The mastermind of the fake bills was Muhammad Shafi, who joined information department as Naib Qasid and promoted to the post of Assistant Accountant BS-16 as shoulder promotion against all the rules and regulations of the service.

It is mentioned here that posting of Yasmeen Memon as Director Publication is also against the orders of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and Services Rules, 1973. And, during her tenure, Yasmeen Memon got inducted her son Shakeel Haque Memon as information officer BS-17.

Former Director General (PR) Abdul Haleem Shaikh had demoted Muhammad Shafi however the influential Naib Qasid refused to honor the orders of the DG as yet and he is still enjoying the post.

Moreover, former secretary information Zulfikar Shalwani, who is on bail and facing corruption charges before NAB, promoted many officers in violation of the rules and regulations and their promotion and postings were subject to districts only.

According to official documents available, “In pursuance of this department’s order no SOG (INF) 200-54/2011 and SGA&CD UN No SOIII (SGA&CD) 13-62/2011, on the recommendation of DPC-I of Information and Archives Department and with the approval of competent authority, the following information officers of BS-17 are promoted as deputy director against 18 upgraded/re-designated posts of district information officers of BS-17 on the advice of Finance Department bearing No FD (SR-IV) 2-5/2010.”

These officials included Abdul Latif Watio, Shafiq Hussain Memon, Mansoor Ahmed Rajput, Akhtar Ali Surhio, Ghulam Rasool Gaad, Sawai Khan Chhilgari, Mohammad Azeem Shah, Mohammad Shabih Siddiqui, Syed Asif Ali Shah, Mohammad Ali Riaz, Hizbullah Memon, Mohammad Zafar Khan, Jehangir Abro, Anita Baloch, Zulfiqar Ali Shaikh, (former SANA Press Secretary and lives in Canada), and Syed Mohammad Hasan Naqvi.

Sources said that Mansoor Ahmed Rajput is on protective bail and enjoying posting at Information Department’s headquarters while Hizbullah Memon had been working in Benazir Bhutto Shaheed Youth Development Programme as program officer on deputation basis, Akhtar Ali Surhio is working as deputy director headquarters, Aneeta Baloch is absconder and she is wanted to NAB for corruption cases, Shabih Siddiqui has been working in Solid Waste Management Board as Grade-19 officer against violation of apex court’s orders, Mohammad Zafar Khan is made deputy director electronic media, Zulfikar Ali Shaikh is in Canada since past few years, Hasan Asghar Naqvi is working in Board of Investment (BoI) and spokesman for a provincial minister.

The information officer namely Sawai Khan Chhalgiri has been given dual charge as deputy director for Badin and Mirpurkhas districts, Asif Shah is made deputy director and officiating as director.

And in the recent past when PPP leader Syed Nasir Hussain Shah was given additional charge of information department, he got posted his brother-in-law Syed Azeem Shah as deputy director advertisement, replaced all other officials with his blue-eyed so as to earn as much as he can.

Mr Nasir Shah also transferred a complainant of two NAB references regarding corruption of billion of rupees, a female officer of grade 19 of Sindh government Information Department, Zeenat Jahan, from Karachi to Sukkur without any solid reason and violating the settled policy regarding female officers. Two NAB references are under proceedings at Accountability Court, Karachi on the complaint of said female officer against some officials. Zeenat Jahan is the only female officer in 50-year history of the department who was transferred out of head office without her consent.

Earlier, Sindh government withdrew two police guards of Zeenat Jahan given to her on NAB directions. In her letters addressed to Chief Justice of Pakistan and Sindh chief secretary, Zeenat Jahan complained about the role of some officials who, according to her, tried to compel her to obey the illegal orders. Both complaints of Zeenat Jahan against corruption of Rs5.76 billion and Rs23.5 million were converted into NAB references and are pending before NAB court Karachi where officials are facing the triall and are on protective bail.

Zeenat Jahan said that she was under pressure by some senior officers who were compelling her to withdraw her complaints from NAB but she refused. “No female officer or employee can be transferred to out station without her consent according to rules but she was transferred to Sukkur,” she said and added that she was approaching Sindh High Court and filing petition against this injustice.

Sindh Information Dept has allegedly managed to burn the records in April 2017, which may have evidence of embezzlement of funds and illegal use of power. No inquiry has been conducted in that regard.

Sindh Post, by following the ethics of journalism  tried to get official comments of secretary Information department Mr. Imran Soomro regarding the matter, but no response was received till publishing of this story.