A glance at the team Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has selected to run the administrative affairs of the country reveals the same lot that was at the helms of affairs when he served as the chief minister of Punjab, Minute Mirror has learnt.
Analysts have taken exception to the fact that PM Shehbaz has nothing new to offer and selected all those old bureaucrats and his party loyalists to run the affairs of the country. On his part, he relied on the tried and tested team. It’s a big question mark as to whether the same team with the shift from provincial to federal level can deliver the goods.
The detractors say that Shehbaz Sharif is known for running the affairs with the help of bureaucracy rather than a political team.
Fawad Hasan Fawad, a grade 22 retired civil servant, has been appointed as Prime Minister’s Adviser on Establishment. He had also served as principal secretary to former premier Nawaz Sharif, but later was nailed by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) on ‘corruption charges’, though that might have been due to his association with the Sharifs. However, the Lahore High Court exonerated him from the charges.
Dr. Tauqeer Shah, who served as principal secretary to CM Shehbaz, has also been facing multiple charges with the NAB and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA). Dr. Shah has been posted as principal secretary to PM, the most powerful position. It’s a proverbial rise from rags to riches story given the sorry state of affairs he passed through during the last few years. Strangely, he was facing the axe under the directory retirement rules during Imran Khan’s regime.
Ahad Khan Cheema, former DC Lahore and DG Lahore Development Authority, was also arrested by NAB on ‘corruption charges’. Cheema has already been exonerated from all the charges.
The next in line is Imdadullah Bosal who is said to be the next chief secretary of Punjab. He had also served as principal secretary to then CM Shehbaz. Bosal comes from a political family and is the brother of PML-N parliamentarian Nasir Bosal.
PM Shehbaz, as critics say, should have picked up fresh talent in the bureaucracy who are neat and clean and want to deliver. This decision of choosing his old loyalists as core team members in the federal government may shrink the prospects of his national politics and policymaking. He has to grow out of the provincial paradigm. This decision will also discourage the competent, efficient and hardworking officers in the bureaucracy.
It is also said that the federal government should have avoided transferring the home secretary and the capital city police officer (CCPO) just before the election of Punjab CM on Saturday.
Advocates Tariq Mirza and Asghar Ch also questioned the comeback of DG NAB Khalid Saleem in Lahore who had initiated cases against the Sharif family. This may leave a dot on the ongoing accountability drive. The transfer of Director FIA Punjab Dr. Rizwan who was investigating the sugar scam and some other cases and Director Cyber Crimes Babar Bakhat Quraishi, who was handling money laundering etc would also be questioned. As PM Shehbaz and his son Hamza are facing the NAB references, the government should avoid interference in the administrative affairs of the bureau.
The PM should have rather focused on a team of officers that could reform the system. Shehbaz as a CM had time and again trumpeted to change the Thana and Patwari cultures in the province but he couldn’t.
Moreover, all the tactics and political gimmicks of the PM reflect that he was not prepared enough to handle the responsibilities assigned to him as the chief executive of the country.
It was okay to visit the offices and workplaces in the early hours of the day. Now, the premier should show a serious attitude and focus on policymaking as the world was observing him. The federal budget, foreign policy, FATF, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, trade deficit and above all National Finance Commission award should be the main areas of his focus.
Additional Chief Secretary of Home Department Zafar Nasrullah Khan was transferred and repatriated to the federal government just one day before the chief minister’s election. As PM Shehbaz’s son Hamza is a candidate for CMship in Punjab, the federal government should have avoided such transfers. Hamza had himself challenged the Usman Buzdar government’s act to transfer the chief secretary and IGP as they had reportedly refused to interfere and manipulate the election.
Though Zafar Nasrullah Khan prepared the Murree incident report leading a three-member committee, his prime focus was the Housing and Urban Planning Development department. He could not focus on charity commission, law and order, prisons, parole, etc. The commission was the prime job of the Home Department under the FATF requirements. The new Home Secretary Syed Ali Murtaza should focus on bringing the reforms to the department. Murtaza had during his first term in this department initiated a package of reforms to improve law and order and prisons. Ali Murtaza as secretary Prosecution Department had also streamlined the prosecution and established an Inspectorate of Prosecution.
It would not be enough to go without discussing former CM Usman Buzdar. He, as people of the PTI criticise, had wasted all three and a half years of the then ruling party in Punjab. He was the sole factor that ruined the party agenda in Punjab.
Moeen Ahmad, a PTI worker said, he is no more a ‘Wasim Akram Plus’ but his actions, inefficiencies and lack of political vision will be remembered in the history of Punjab. “His prime focus was the development in his hometown Dera Ghazi Khan. What will be the fate of the mega projects he initiated in DG Khan? He established a mini secretariat in Taunsa, the home tehsil of Buzdar,” he criticised.
Not only all the officers of junior formations but secretaries of the South Punjab secretariat were also directed to sit in the Taunsa secretariat. Moreover, Buzdar has also directed the officers working in the main Civil Secretariat in Lahore to visit Dera Ghazi Khan and provide relief to his voters. His transferring of funds from other heads to the development of his area and favouring his voters from his discretionary funds have also become headlines.
His actions proved that he was a district-level chief minister. Minting of money allegedly by Farah Khan and her husband Ahsan Jamil Gujjar for transfers and postings of officers should be investigated by the anti-graft bodies. He also allowed his principal secretary Aamir Jaan to hold additional charge of ACS and secretary Energy Department. He also allowed his home secretary to hold additional charge of the Housing and the Urban Development Department. Buzdar never preferred merit while posting officers, Ahmad alleged.
Moreover, after the change of guard in Punjab, the officers are of the view that the new CM will promote his loyal officers and ignore competent, upright and hard-working officers. The PTI MPAs’ manhandling of the deputy speaker and the subsequent police raid would tarnish the party’s image. The PTI leadership should condemn such acts. Newly-elected NA Speaker Raja Parvez Ashraf, a Pakistan People’s Party stalwart, has suspended Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri’s decision of accepting the PTI lawmakers’ resignations. This would deepen anarchy in the political scenario. The PTI should clarify whether the ex-PM Imran Khan’s selling of a gifted watch received from Toshakhana followed rules or not. If not, Khan should face justice; if yes, this debate must be termed as character assassination of a popular leader.
In another development, Punjab Public Service Commission Secretary Nawaz Khalid Arbi had requested the CS to transfer him from the commission as his son was appearing for examinations. Honest, competent and hardworking officers like Arbi are an asset to the bureaucracy. Buzdar’s government had kept pending many summaries sent to him for approval regarding PPSC. The CM had curtailed the powers of the prime commissioning agency regarding the recruitment of officers. His government did not want to appoint members against the vacant slots in the commission. His sole purpose as the sources in the commission claimed was to trim the role of the commission in the recruitments. Buzdar, instead of a one-year age relaxation for the provincial competitive examination, had allowed a general relaxation for two years across the board for all candidates appearing in all PPSC examinations. By such acts, he wanted to show that PPSC was a failed entity.
There is news that the federal government may notify Imdadullah Bosal as CS Punjab after the election of the Punjab chief minister. IGP, many top-level officers like secretaries, commissioners, DCs and director-general Anti-Corruption Punjab are also on the radar to be reshuffled in Punjab.
The Shehbaz government should introduce a civil service policy for officers. Also, there should be a transparent transfer-posting policy following the Supreme Court ruling in the Anita Turab case. Otherwise, the bureaucracy will not deliver wholeheartedly. Shehbaz Sharif should continue the good policies of the outgoing government like the directory retirement and get rid of the deadwood in the bureaucracy. He may also go the extra mile to review the PTI’s across the board executive allowances and link them to the performance of officers. At least the PM should direct work audit of the officers who had been drawing hefty monetary benefits but didn’t deliver.