In what may be seen as a surprising revelation, as many as 1,035 posts of different cadres have been lying vacant in the Ministry of Housing and Works (MOH&W) and its attached departments for many years. According to the documents available with Daily Times, out of a total of 232 sanctioned positions, there are 188 filled within the ministry which also includes some deputationist staffers who joined the ministry from other departments across the country. Other than the ministry itself, as per the document, a large number of posts have been lying vacant in its attached bodies for a long time. Pakistan Public Works Department (Pak PWD) is one of the major attached functionaries of the MOH&W, which has been tasked with the objectives of the construction of roads, bridges and airports and other such matters, while the department is currently running with 850 vacant positions of various cadres. Besides this, the Pak PWD has 147 temporary staffers, including 38 officials, who are working here on a deputation basis. As per the document, out of a total of 56 sanctioned positions of divisional accounts officers, 33 remain vacant. Out of 89 sanctioned posts, the department is running its affairs with a lack of 37 stenotypists as their posts are not filled. Likewise, the Pak PWD has a post of engineer which has a pivotal role to fulfil the department’s basic functions. However, as per the documents, 23 posts of engineers are vacant out of a total of 109, while five engineers have been working on a contractual basis. The estimator was a sanctioned post at the PWD with a strength of 111 employees, and out of this strength, the department kept 60 positions vacant for a long time. Moreover, 58 estimators have been working as temporary/contractual employees. Out of around 1,450 sanctioned clerical and other lower cadres posts, around 350 are lying vacant at the Pak PWD. Like Pak PWD, some other attached departments of the ministry are also working with a shortage of employees in different sections of the department. An official at the ministry told this scribe on a condition of anonymity that the failure to fill such a big number of posts was a question mark on the performance of authorities of the ministry. The official pointed out that the vacant positions also cause an increasing work burden on the existing employees, which, he explained, will ultimately impact overall departmental work efficiency. He suggested that the authorities should fill all the vacant posts immediately which may somehow bridge the gap of unemployment in the country as well. As per rules of business, 1973, the MOH&W is mainly responsible for the acquisition of federal government buildings; provision of government-owned office accommodation and residential accommodation; policy for acquisition and management of federal lodges; land buildings belonging to the federation wherever situated and revenues derived therefrom; matters relating to the federal government lands’ licenses to various cooperative housing societies in Karachi, except those under the defence division; transfer of property other than agricultural land; registration of deeds and documents, administrative control of the National Housing Authority; coordination of civil works budget; and execution of federal government works. Besides this, the ministry also deals with matters relating to the National Construction limited and some other small functionaries. The official maintained that the ministry with such key jobs has come with great responsibilities also. “It should not work with said administrative negligence and fill positions on a priority basis,” he suggested. When Daily Times contacted the Minister for State of MOH&W Muhammad Shabir Ali Qureshi, he said the ministry used to fill vacant posts through the proper procedure as per requirement. “I don’t think the information regarding such a large number of vacant posts is correct,” he claimed. When he was told about the available documents, Qureshi said, “Sometimes the Finance Division (Ministry of Finance) does not allow to fill the posts due to budgetary constraints,” adding that the Ministry sought approval of the Finance Division many times through the Establishment Division which has been mostly turned down. “We advertised and filled all positions immediately as per node given by the Finance Division,” he recalled.