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ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Water Resources has failed to find a suitable candidate for the position of Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Water (PCIW), even after passage of three years, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.

The Water Resources Division apprised the Cabinet on August 24, 2021 that the office of PCIW was an executive department under the administrative control of Ministry of Water Resources, headed by a Commissioner and was primarily responsible for implementation of the Indus waters Treaty - 1960.

The post of Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters (BS-21) fell vacant on January 11, 2018 after the retirement of the then Indus Commissioner. Due to non-availability of suitable replacement in the department, arrangement was made to run the affairs of the office of PCIW by granting additional charge of the post to different officers with the approval of Prime Minister/Federal cabinet from time to time.

While considering and approving the last extension of PCIW through the MoWR's summary on March 12, 2021 Prime Minister directed to constitute a committee under the chairpersonship of the Federal Minister for Human Rights. The committee was entrusted to identify the problems in hiring of suitable candidate for the post through advertisement and recommend therein amendments on the basis of which selection for the post shall be carried out and Advisor to PM on Institutional Reforms, Secretary, Establishment Division and secretary, MowR as its members. The committee met on March 29, 2021 and finalized its findings/recommendations which are as follows ;(i) advertisement for the post of Commissioner clubs together diverse skill sets and cannot be found in one individual. Therefore, the skills requirements need to be un-bundled;(ii) SPPS-III package is not attractive enough to find suitable candidates for the post;( iii) the existing recruitment rules of PCIW are deficient and only cater for promotional quota; and (iv) .Other streams of qualified engineers and legal experts are not encouraged to apply.

Recommendations of the Committee: (i) The Water Resources Division should restructure the Commission (ii) to bring expert and human resources in the fields of hydrology engineering and international law with specific knowledge of international treaties;(ii) the recruitment process should be open-ended and made possible through all means including deputation, direct recruitment and promotion. Furthermore, the Special Professional Pay package for the post may be enhanced from SPPS-III to SPPS-II. Headhunting option may be explored to find suitable candidates for the post; (iii) Service rules for PCIW should be revised at the earliest and ;(iv) the professional competence for post of PCIW may be unbundled and the requirements of professional competence in hydrology engineering and diplomatic treaty implementation cell may be separated and a Water Treaty Cell.

During discussion, the Minister for Water Resources, Moonis Elahi explained that the requirement of professional competence for the post of the Commissioner cannot be unbundled as these were mentioned in the Indus water Treaty. However, work on the other recommendations of the committee was in progress. The Prime Minister observed that in most cases requests for extension on the pretext of failure to find a suitable candidate for the post could be traced back to faulty advertisement. He directed that in future proposals for extension, on the grounds of failure to find a suitable candidate, should invariably be accompanied by the original advertisement of the post, so that it could be ascertained whether the recruitment process was unsuccessful due to the advertised condition for appointment.

After detailed discussion on the summary submitted by the Water Resources Division, and while taking note of the recommendations of the Committee, the Cabinet directed Water Resources Division to implement the recommendations except unbundling of the requirements of professional competence of post of PCIW, which were mentioned in the Indus Water Treaty - 1960. The Cabinet further directed all Ministries/Divisions that, in future, summaries for the Cabinet, proposing extension on the grounds of failure to find a suitable candidate, shall invariably include the original advertisement of the post.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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