ISLAMABAD: Information Minister Shibli Faraz Tuesday shrugged off allegations that the PTI-led government had ignored merit whilst creating the digital media wing of the ministry.
A former member of the ruling PTI’s social media team, Imran Ghazali, was appointed to a top position in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, a notification issued Monday by the Establishment Division confirmed a few days ago.
The minister was speaking during Geo News current affairs programme “Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath” on Tuesday where he was asked about the recruitment process.
“Some renowned journalists have been tweeting wrongly that the government appointed people without placing advertisements,” said the information minister. “In fact, advertisements were published in different national dailies,” he added, opening up a newspaper and showing the advertisement.
Faraz said that only two persons from the PTI, including himself, were part of the selection board. He justified his presence in the board by saying that the government wouldn’t allow PML-N representatives, such as Ahsan Iqbal, to be part of the selection board.
The minister categorically rejected allegations of nepotism, saying that the “best people” were hired.
“The majority of youth is with the PTI and we will hire the best people irrespective of their political affiliations,” he pointed out, adding seven people were selected and only one of them belonged to the party.
When asked to justify the creation of the social media wing with a large budget, Faraz said establishing it was the need of the hour to tackle internal and external challenges facing the country in the digital world.
The federal government has set up the digital media wing under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to counter fake news, he said.
Former PTI social media team member appointed at top position in info ministry
Earlier in March this year, the government had approved a supplementary grant of Rs42.791 million for the social media wing.
In addition, the ministry has also acquired the services of five other individuals, namely Shahbaz Khan, Muhammad Muzammil Hassan, Usman bin Zaheer, Naeem Ahmed Yasin, and Syeda Dhanak Hashmi at the MP-III scale.
PM Imran green-signalled the appointments in December 2019.
Responding to media reports about appointments being approved without any competition, the ministry had said PM Imran had given the green signal in December 2019.
It had also clarified that a total of 76 applications were received for the position of ‘General Manager’, whereas 67 for the ‘Digital Media Consultant’ vacancy. All in all, some 461 people applied to the jobs across seven MP scales, it had added.
The recruitments in the digital media wing were made by a special selection board after it conducted interviews, the ministry noted, adding that a summary of the selected individuals was approved by the prime minister on July 20.
Those who have been hired would be paid Rs75,000 a month, it said. The candidates for the remaining 16 posts had been shortlisted, it added further.
Hired without competitive examinations
Sources had earlier informed Geo News that all six have been handling the PTI’s media cell and were hired at top positions with hefty salaries without any competitive examinations.
Each of the six had worked in presenting the PTI’s viewpoints on social media in the 2013 and 2018 general elections, the sources had added.
The information ministry, however, had maintained its position that the recruitments were made according to a procedure approved by PM Imran for its ‘Digital Media Wing’ back in April 2020. The latest job vacancies, it added, were also advertised in the newspapers as per law.