Around 500 candidates, including 50 officials from ISI and Intelligence Bureau, have been caught "cheating" while appearing for an entrance test to fill vacancies in Pakistan's premier National Counter Terrorism Authority, according to a media report on Wednesday.
With the Nawaz Sharif government lifting the ban on recruitment by relaxing rules for inducting counter-terrorism officers, the assessment exam held last week was "marred by so many blatant frauds that it has turned into a farce".
Around 500 candidates were caught solving papers through internet browsing on mobile phones and 50 of them were identified as ISI/IB officers who participated in the exam to try their luck, as lucrative packages are being offered to the new inductees, The News daily reported.
The openings were announced to fill 130 vacant positions, 34 of them for officers, in the National Counter Terrorism Authority that the government is betting on for a decisive war against terrorism.
The NACTA chief national coordinator is also accused of nepotism as his personal staff, which was simultaneously involved in the assessment process and taking part in the exam, was also declared successful, the report said.
"The recruitment process became suspicious right from the beginning as positions were advertised on August 16 setting August 25 as the deadline for submitting applications and then holding exams on September 1, just a week later, sparing no time for scrutiny," the report said.
When the call letters for assessment exams were issued, the candidates at distant places received them a day before the test as a quota system was followed to invite applications from all the provinces.
The report said the manner in which the exams were held "was no less than a joke". The timing for the exam was 9 am, however, the question papers were distributed at 10.30 am.
To top it all, the candidates outnumbered the question papers as there were 5,000 hopefuls, included among them PhD degree holders.
"Half of the candidates were made to wait as the staff was busy photo-copying the question papers for the remaining lot who received them at 12.30 pm. As the exam started, there were around 10 invigilators for 5,000 candidates, hundreds of them busy cheating since they were allowed to bring mobile phones," it said.
The report added that hundreds of candidates armed with smartphones used the internet facility for browsing as 80 per cent of the paper comprising of multiple choice questions and 20 per cent for writing a couple of paragraphs on their suggestions on how to eradicate terrorism.