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ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary panel on Thursday expressed dismay over lack of merit and transparency in the nomination process for giving civil awards to citizens in recognition of their achievements in the fields of literature, arts, sports, medicine or science.

The Senate Standing Committee for Cabinet Secretariat, which met here with ex-Senate chairman Raza Rabbani, ordered the concerned authorities to share form being filled by the people aspirant for the civil awards.

The issue was taken up by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Mushahidullah Khan, who objected over the nomination process of the civil awards, and the people who finalise the names for top civilian awards.

He said getting the top civilian award of the country was not a joke, but the criteria used for nominating the people for those awards had special committees at provincial levels, but now "I'm skeptical as if the criteria has changed" the way those awards were being thrown away.

He objected over conferring Sitra-e-Imtiaz to Javed Afridi - the owner of Peshawar Zalmi - and said if that was the yardstick of giving a civil award; owner of Lahore Qalander Rana Fawad deserved the highest civil awards as he had been sending his teams to play for the country despite repeated defeats.

"There are so many other people like Rana Fawad who have great contribution for the country, but why it's Javed Afridi? Is it because he's related to someone quite popular," he questioned, in obvious reference to Shahid Afridi, an international cricketer and the former captain of the Pakistan national cricket team, who is the cousin of Javed Afridi.

Brig Tahir Rashid (retd), the joint secretary awards, told the committee that every year in December, the ministries and their divisions are invited to recommend candidates to the Cabinet Division.

He said that received nominations are considered by three awards committees after which final proposal is sent to the prime minister who then forwards the final recommendations to the president.

He said after the president's approval, the announcements are made on Independence Day and investiture takes place on Pakistan Day.

The State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Ali Muhammad Khan, said that the civil awards were given according to set criteria being practiced by the past governments and there had been no changes.

However, the committee members were not satisfied with the briefing given by the government official and asked for the performa being filled by the candidates and award committees, while nominating the candidates for the top civil awards.

The government had to face immense criticism after it nominated Mehwish Hayat, an actress, Javed Afridi, a businessman, etc, given the fact there were much more deserving people who had done wonders in their respective fields.

Pakistan People's Party (PPP) had faced a similar criticism after it distributed the top civil awards among party diehards in bulk during its rule from 2008 to 2013.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020