Favorite candidate rejected for OGDCL’s head? Cabinet members want to restrict role of Intelligence agencies

Aftab Ahmed

Islamabad: Is it rejection of favorite candidate to appoint head of country’s largest oil and gas explorer Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (Ogdcl)? Cabinet members have come up with a demand to restrict role of intelligence agencies to conduct due diligence of the candidates for the positions of heads of public sector companies.

The cabinet members raised the issue of restricting role of ISI and IB during discussions regarding appointment of managing director OGDCL. The ISI and IB had had not cleared the favorite candidate Mr Shehryar Lodhi which board of directors of the company had named at top in merit order despite the fact he was from service company and did not have required experience of exploration. Lodhi is also member of Energy Task Force headed by special assistant to Prime Minister on Petroleum Nadeem Babar.

The cabinet members pointed out that the report of Intelligence agencies should be to the extent of integrity and other traits of the candidates which are generally unrecorded. They said that agencies should not comment upon professional angle which had already been vetted and verified by competent forum.

The cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan was informed that the position of MD OGDCL was advertised in February 2018.The initial shortlisting was done with the help of headhunting firm. Therefore, after interviewing the shortlisted candidates, board of directors of Ogdcl recommended a panel of four candidates in the order of preference to seek concurrence of the federal government for appointment of one of the candidates for position of MD OGDCL.

Board had recommended Shehryar Lodhi at top of the list in order of preference. Second potential candidate was Shahid Salim Khan, third one was Ahsan Khan and fourth was Irteza Ali Qureshi. The list of these candidates was shared with IB and ISI for necessary due diligence. Both the agencies raised concerns about the suitability and reputation of Mr Shehryar Lodhi and Mr Irteza Ali Qureshi. However, two candidates including Shahid Saleem Khan and Ahsan Khan were cleared by both the agencies.

It is interesting to note that Mr Irteza Ali Qureshi is currently serving as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Ogdcl and was appointed during the previous regime of PML-N. Despite negative note by Intelligence agencies during process of hiring MD OGDCL, he is still holding charge of the CFO. Both agencies ISI and IB have not cleared him and raised concerns about his suitability and reputation. Despite this fact, he is holding charge.

After detailed discussion, cabinet had approved appointment of Mr Saleem Khan as new managing director of Ogdcl. The government has issued notification in this regard.

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