ISLAMABAD - A poet and permanent officer of Pakistan Academy of Letters (PAL) has been targeted and sacked in the supreme institution of literature.

Khurram Khiraam Siddiqui, a published Urdu and English poet and a permanent BS-17 officer in PAL, has been removed illegally by the Chairman of the Academy, Abdul Hameed.

PAL is a supreme institution of the country established for the welfare of Pakistani poets and men of letters, however in this institution a permanent employee of the government has been removed without following any law.

According to Khurram, he was illegally suspended by the PAL Chairman Abdul Hameed on June 20, 2012. Then after three months of highly one-sided enquiry, the Secretary of the Ministry of National Heritage and Integration, Asif Ghafoor on the recommendations of the Chairman PAL removed Khurram from the post on November 15, 2012.

“Ironically, the decision came two days after the verdict of Supreme Court that no government officer will be removed illegally. In a democratically elected government when even the contractual employees are made permanent, the removal of BS-17 officer is an open contempt of court,” he regretted.

After suspending Khurram, the Chairman, who was also holding the charge of National Language Promotion Department (NLPD) at that time, on July 10 directed Dr Rashid Hameed, NLPD Naib Motamid, to hold the inquiry but he refused to obey the orders terming it as an unjust act. The Chairman again ordered another enquiry on July 31 that was conducted by an official of the Academy, Deputy Director Administration and Finance Bashir Hussain, whom the Chairman himself had appointed.

“I was not event called by the official who was conducting the enquiry. I was only asked to convey my position in writing on some baseless and stupid charges that I have not produced any work and I approach high-ups for different reasons bypassing the immediate bosses,” he complained.     

According to Khurram, the PAL Chairman appointed a lady of his liking on his post even when he was not removed and the enquiry was under way, thus, setting up a rare example of nepotism.  He alleged the management does not want him to publish biannual English literary Journal, Pakistani Literature and its publication has been deliberately stopped for the last two years. “The Chairman was against me since he took charge as some officials of the Academy had lobbied against me and misinformed the Charmin about me.”

He maintained that his performance is appreciated by intellectuals and writers despite that he has been charged by the PAL management that he ‘failed to perform his duty’. This charge is ridiculous and unreal and a figment of Chairman’s imagination as no officer of PAL has produced the books of such a quality and impact since 2006, he added.

Khurram Khiraam joined PAL in 2006 as first regular Editor English and since then has compiled and edited over 10 English publications of international standard including two anthologies under an international literary exchange between Pakistan and USA. The sacked officer has appealed to the Chief Justice and the Prime Minister for the reinstatement of his job and to take notice of this illegal step.

Terming the act as unjust and cruel he said ‘he has been forced to leave the city as his salary has been stopped that has disturbed his family and education of his children’.

PAL Chairman Abdul Hameed when contacted refused to comment on the issue: saying  ‘I don’t know why you are interested in the issue, write whatever you like’.

‘It is unfortunate that poets and writers in Pakistan find it hard to survive. Literary and cultural institutions like PAL rather than creating spaces for them, take away jobs of even those who are employees there, Khurram Khiraam being one such example’ Harris Khalique, poet and author, remarked.

He opined that Academy was no more an active literary organisation as it used to be when it was headed by Iftikhar Arif.  ‘NLPD is far more active in literary activities as its Chairman holds a literary background. It is important that such institutions should be run by the people who have background in literature or culture’ he stressed.