The appointment of Syed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, popularly known as Zulfi Bukhari, as chairman of the Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC) has been challenged in the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

A petition filed by 14 employees of the PTDC has also challenged appointment of Intikhab Alam as PTDC`s managing director.

Besides, the petitioners also questioned establishment of the National Tourism Coordination Board (NTCB), saying that after devolution of tourism to provinces, formation of the NTCB was unconstitutional.

IHC Justice Aamer Farooq after a preliminary hearing admitted the petition for regular hearing and issued notices to the secretaries of the cabinet and establishment divisions, Mr Bukhari and the PTDC`s managing director.

The petition alleged that `personal friendship of the respondent No.4 (Mr Bukhari) with the Prime Minister of the country is an open secret. He is less than 40 and currently enjoying multiple influential positions in the federal government set-up. He has been raised and brought up in the United Kingdom but due to his personal friendship with the Prime Minister, he was first appointed as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister of Pakistan on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development and then Chairman NTCB Board. He has also been appointed as Chairman of PTDC Board.

The petition asserted that before his appointment as chairman of the PTDC board, Mr Bukhari has never been appointed as a member of the PTDC`s board of directors. Under the company law, only a member of the board of directors can be appointed chairman of the board and there is no concept of direct appointment as chairman of the board of a public limited company.

The petitioners through their counsel, Hafiz Arafat Ahmed and Kashifa Niaz, adopted before the court that the establishment of the NTCB through an executive notification in March 2019 issued by the cabinet secretariat in sheer violation of the Constitution (Eighteenth) Amendment, 2010.

The petition pointed out that after the 18th Amendment, the subject of `tourism` has been devolved to the provinces.

As a result, only the provinces are empowered to make necessary legislation, frame policies and set up appropriate bodies to execute their plans according to their resources and of course keeping in view the tourism potential in each province.

Subsequently, any decision made by the NTCB without legislative backing will create complications and will have absolutely no significance in the eyes of law, the petition added.

The petition went on to say that the minutes of meetings of the NTCB also reflect that the PTDC`s managing director is also participating in the said meetings as secretary to the NTCB. The composition of the Board (NTCB) as approved by the prime minister of Pakistan in the impugned notification shows that the PTDC`s managing director figures nowhere rather a joint secretary of the cabinet division has been assigned the responsibility of the office of the secretary to the Board.

Regarding the appointment of Mr Alam as PTDC managing director, the petitioners pointed out that Mr. Alam is a BS-19 officer of Secretariat Group firstly as general manager (planning) in the PTDC under Section 10 of the Civil Servants Act, 1973 and only after a couple of months the said official was given current charge of the post of PTDC`s managing director for a period of three months. The said individual possesses no experience of tourism industry; therefore, he could not have been entrusted with such important position.