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Political conflict and stop-gap arrangement

Ever since Kamran Ali Afzal became controversial because of the role he played in the election of the Chief Minister of Punjab and the subsequent events of May 25, relations between CM Pervaiz Elahi’s government and the Chief Secretary’s Office have remained strained

The leave of Chief Secretary Punjab Kamran Ali Afzal has been extended by a month for the second time and the Punjab government has further extended additional charge to Chairman Planning and Development Board Abdullah Khan Sumbal as CS.

How long will this stop gap arrangement last and what will be its impact on the administrative affairs of the province? The people of Punjab are losing in the fight between the federation and the province. Ever since Kamran Ali Afzal became controversial because of the role he played in the election of the Chief Minister of Punjab and the subsequent events of May 25, relations between CM Pervaiz Elahi’s government and the Chief Secretary’s Office have remained strained.

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On this, Chief Secretary Afzal had to request the federal government more than once that he could no longer work with the Punjab government, so he should be transferred from here. On the other hand, the Punjab government also nominated three officers, including, former senior member Board of Revenue Babar Hayat Tarar, Federal Secretary Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera and Abdullah Khan Sumbal. But the Shehbaz Sharif government was also adamant that Kamran Ali Afzal should continue his duties.

CS Afzal had also blamed the provincial chief Minister’s office of interfering into administrative affairs of the province. He had opened his heart in private meeting that transfers and postings of officers were made in violation of the set principles.  However the CS himself had flouted too the orders issued by the Establishment Division regarding implementation of the Rotation Policy 2020. The federal government desired to surrender the services of the PAS and PSP officers who fell under the rotation policy.

Instead of compliance CS Afzal had written to the Establishment Division that he had shortage of police and civil officers so it was hard for him to relieve those officers. The Federal government had directed the officers of the PAS to submit explanation. The then officers included the Punjab Management and Special Development Department Secretary Ali Tahir, DG Khan Division Commissioner Sarah Aslam, Sargodha Division Commissioner Farah Masood.

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When senior officers were spoken to in this regard, they agreed that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif seems to be playing a game in the matter of Punjab. “It is a wonder for him that the administration of Punjab was lost from his family” they related. This is the reason he is constantly hesitating to appoint a Chief Secretary in Punjab which is having a negative impact on the future of flood affected people. The PMLN coalition government has not created any such administrative problem in the other provinces led by PTI including Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

A senior officer of the Establishment Division, on condition of anonymity, said that according to the law, a three-officer panel was sent to the federation to be appointed as administrative head of the province. The general tradition is also the same, but it happened for the first time that there are two different parties in the government of the federation and the province, so the federal government wants to create problems in the largest province in terms of population so that it can secure politically in the next election. He said that the federal service is governed by a law. If CS Afzal remains on leave for a long period, how long the Punjab government under a similar arrangement run its higher office on additional charge, he questioned.

When a Provincial Management Service officer was asked whether the Punjab government can give grade 22 to a provincial officer and appoint him as CS or hire a manager of this qualification from the market, he said that if the CM Elahi can appoint a non-civil servant as Principal Secretary he can do this too. He said that Muslim League N, which is a co-signatory in the Eighteenth Amendment, has itself violated this constitutional provision in the matter of Chief Secretary’s appointment. Setting aside political difference the federal government should post a permanent boss in Punjab, he proposed.

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