Murder of merit: drive against regularization of contractual employees

By Inayat Amir

Islamabad: The people of Gilgit-Baltistan especially members of civil society, youth organizations and journalists have opposed the regional government’s move to regularize contractual employees in violation of merit.

The PTI government had earlier regularized more than sixty contractual employees, including some BPS-17 officers, under the ‘Gilgit-Baltistan Employees (Regularisation of Services) Act, 2020.

Irked by the move, concerned citizens took to the social media and called out the provincial government for ‘violating rules of hiring and ensuring merit in the process.’

A social media activist lamented that the very party that secured votes in the name of ensuring merit to empower youth was now compromising it to benefit the relatives and acquaintances of the powerful few at the expense of eligible and competent aspirants.                          

Another user questioned whether it was possible to convince the youth to have faith in merit while violating the rules that ensure it in the first place.

A notification issued by the GB government on March 11, 2022 read that ‘consequent upon the competent authority/Chief Secretary Gilgit Baltistan scrutiny committee, the contract services of the following subject specialists (BS-17) of Education Department Gilgit Baltistan are hereby regularized in accordance with the relevant provision of “The Gilgit Baltistan Employees (Regularization of Services) Act, 2020 and the guiding principles of GB cabinet with effect from the date of commencement of the act.’

The residents alleged that it was a modus operandi of successive governments to hire their kith and kin by first inducting them on contractual basis and then after concerted lobbying, regularizing them with a stroke of the pen, with utter disregard to even the basic norms of merit.

They said it was disappointing to see how governments in general and the incumbent government, in particular, were not living up to the expectations of the youth who were leading a life of despair and hopelessness due to the ever high rates of unemployment. 

They urged the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the Supreme Appellate Court of Gilgit Baltistan and other competent authorities to look into the matter and review the move.

A Twitter campaign with the hashtag of #MurderOfMeritInGB was also launched by the civil society members of the area with an aim to shed light on the alleged irregularities and nepotism in various departments of GB government.

Despite towering claims of the successive governments, this remains an open secret that jobs in Gilgit Baltistan were being distributed on sectarian, political, and personal acquaintance basis, said a netizen.  

They said it was a prerequisite to establish meritocracy in the region and elsewhere in order to move forward and make a better society.

Inayat Amir is an Islamabad-based journalist.

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