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HomeNationalBuzdar’s highflying bureaucrats find themselves in a bind

Buzdar’s highflying bureaucrats find themselves in a bind

"After the resignation of Akram Plus (Buzdar) and departure of infamous Farah Khan from the country, a shock wave has been felt by those corrupt officers who got postings by greasing the palms of those at the helm of affairs in the PTI setup"

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) top dissident who lambasted ex-chief minister Usman Buzdar with allegations of receiving huge amounts of bribery for posting the ‘most corrupt’ officers in Punjab at lucrative positions, has grabbed the attention of the anti-graft bodies, Minute Mirror has learnt. The honest and competent officers had been sidelined by the outgoing CM, Usman Buzdar, who was given the title of Waseem Akram Plus by Prime Minister Imran Khan.

After the resignation of Akram Plus and departure of infamous Farah Khan from the country, a shock wave has been experienced by those corrupt officers who got postings by greasing the palms of those at the helm of affairs in the PTI setup. Ahsan Jameel Gujjar had already been away due to a fluid political situation in the country and possible crackdown.

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The watchdogs are closely monitoring the rapidly changing situation and have updated their information which could facilitate them in arresting the officers involved in money-minting for postings. Since all allegations are leveled by the PTI stalwarts themselves, so they cannot just be brushed aside. Former governor Ch Sarwar as well as former senior minister Punjab Aleem Khan have reiterated what had previously been alleged by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Uzma Bukhari, the PML-N spokeswoman.

Bukhari had leveled serious corruption charges on Tahir Khurshid (popularly known as TK), the then principal secretary to CM Buzdar. National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had initiated an investigation against TK while he was still Buzdar’s principal secretary. He is currently holding the charge of Secretary Incharge of Ministry of Food Security at Islamabad.

Aleem Khan had recently demanded arrest of some senior officers to take the matter to its logical end. As per the investigations of this newspaper, since allegations are leveled against former CM Buzdar, hence him and his principal secretaries must be interrogated.

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It is true that Chief Minister Usman Buzdar had transferred at least five Principal Secretaries (PS) during his three years and eight months of rule in the province. Right from Dr. Raheel Siddiqui, Iftikhar Sahoo, Dr. Shoaib Akbar, Tahir Khurshid and the last one was Amir Jan. Jan, as many officers say, was running the Chief Minister’s Office on his personal whims and was appointed at the coveted position because of his links with Ahsan Jameel Gujjar. He didn’t answer queries sent to him. He had three caps on his head. Besides secretary energy, additional chief secretary energy, he was also holding the office of the principal secretary to CM, the most demanding position in the bureaucracy. He was too junior to hold this slot meant for seasoned bureaucrats.

Former principal secretary Tahir Khurshid had developed a good relationship with Usman Buzdar during his posting as commissioner of DG Khan, the home district of CM Buzdar. Khurshid held important positions in Punjab, like secretary Communication and Works, secretary Local Government, chairman Chief Minister’s Inspection Team (CMIT), and principal secretary to the chief minister.

Despite the fact that he was wanted by NAB over serious charges like assets beyond means, benami accounts and suspicious transactions, etc, he was posted to the top office in the CM Office. There were also charges of taking commission while awarding development contracts and minting of money through transfers and postings of officers.

Khurshid’s son-in-law Ahsan Saleem was also posted special advisor to CM Buzdar. Buzdar had personally requested PM Imran Khan to allow him to post Khurshid as his principal secretary, which Khan did. However, on NAB’s interrogation, the Punjab government transferred Khurshid to the federal government. Since then, he had been attempting to come back to Punjab as the chief secretary but all his dreams were shattered as Buzdar had to tender his resignation.

Dr. Raheel Siddiqui also served as principal secretary and was allegedly involved in the wine permit case approved by chief minister Buzdar. NAB has also arrested DG Excise Akram Gondal in the same case while former principal secretary to CM, Siddiqui, the chief minister himself and some others were accused of awarding an illegal liquor licence to a hotel in Lahore.

Other accused officers who posted deputy commissioners and other officers of grade 18 and above at coveted positions include secretary services. Shaharyar Sultan holds the office of the Services Wing. All the incumbents of the office of Secretary Services should also be investigated to catch the culprits.

When Kamran Ali Afzal took over as chief secretary Punjab, he surrendered Irum Bukhari to the federal government owing to her bad reputation and alleged involvement in suspicious practices in the transfers of assistant commissioners. The Services Wing and the principal secretary of the chief executive mutually post any officer against positions of deputy commissioners and commissioners with the approval of the CM.

A senior officer of the S&GAD told that as the Buzdar government had imposed a ban on transfers and postings throughout Punjab, only through summaries to the CM the officers could be posted and transferred. The only ones responsible for this would be CM and his principal secretary, the officer alleged.

Since the criteria of three year tenure of posting of an officer at a certain post is blatantly violated, there is a vast space available to play freely while posting against lucrative positions like ACs, DCs, commissioners, DPOs, RPOs etc. Government agencies should also direct investigations against former CM Usman Buzdar and his principal secretaries. It must also be probed as to why Jan had been given three portfolios at the same time.

Vice-chairman Lahore Development Authority SM Imran, in his tweet, alleged that Aleem Khan wanted illegal Ravi River bed constructions that he denied because he had support from PM Imran Khan. The investigation agencies should also investigate both sides, allegations and counter facts. An official of the anti-graft body disclosed that all sides of the case will be investigated on the complaints.

Some of those who held important posts in Punjab included Ahmed Aziz Tarar (DG Lahore Development Authority), Babar Hayat Tarar (senior member Board of Revenue, Punjab), Capt (Retd) Zafar Iqbal (commissioner Bahawalpur Division), Capt (r) Muhammad Mehmood (former commissioner Rawalpindi Division), Asif Bilal Lodhi (chairman PITB) and Saleha Saeed (director General Excise).

CM Office Additional Secretary Aysha Hameed, former DG LDA Usman Moazzam, former DC Gujranwala Sohail Khawaja, and Rana Shakoor, who was removed from the position of registrar cooperatives on corruption charges, were the other officers holding key positions. Meanwhile, the blue eyed bureaucrats of PTI, who secured prized postings through Farah Khan and other backdoor channels have started lobbying to protect themselves from possible inquiries. They are using backdoor links in the PML-N, the main political party which has, and will have, a strong public support throughout the province after the change of guards in the political echelons.

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