ISLAMABAD: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah has been virtually suspended by the de facto ruler of the province Mr Tappi, who just recently got his own man appointed as principal secretary of the CM, taking over even the little clout that was left with the aging PPP leader.
The ex-Secretary to the CM Kazi Kabeer was punished for carrying out CM’s orders and has been awaiting posting for the last three weeks. He left charge on December 13. Shah could not do anything about it. Kabeer’s successor Ahmed Buksh Narejo is also not the choice of the CM but of Mr Tappi, whose real name is Owais Muzzaffar, once a mid career civil servant long time confidante of President Asif Ali Zardari, who treats Tappi as his step-brother.
Following a recent report in The News about this de facto ruler of Sindh, it was expected that things might have improved in the province of President Zardari’s domicile, but credible sources in Karachi reveal that the things have gone from bad to worse.
Sharmila Farooqi, the media adviser to the Sindh chief minister, when approached, denied that the Sindh province is ruled by Mr Tappi. She insisted that Tappi has nothing to do with the Sindh government and denied that the secretary to the CM was replaced on Tappi’s wishes.
Farooqi said that the Sindh government is being run under the rules of business, and all the postings and transfers are being done as per the law and by the competent authorities whether the chief minister, provincial ministers or heads of different departments.
The sources, however, have a different tale to tell. “There is now no doubt about the truth in the view that the Presidency gets provoked by the press coverage of its maladministration which is bringing the democratic system under the threat of being derailed, but in their fury of provocation, the ruling coterie tends to reinforce the causes of its failure with greater vigor,” a source said.
The source added that while admitting that Punjab has good governance in his speech in Naudero on December 27 and giving the PPP the credit for it, the president failed to clarify why such party is discovering a deeper ditch of bad governance in Sindh every day.
The source said that earlier officials of the government of Sindh were being told time and again about the grave consequences of ignoring Tappi’s importance in their day-to-day working. Even the chief secretary was ordered to obey Tappi’s instructions.
However, in order to clear an air of confusion as sometimes the signals from the Chief Minister’s Office would be in contradiction of the wishes of Mr Tappi, the latter recently got control of even the CM’s Office by getting his choice officer appointed as principal secretary to the CM.
The credible sources said that the chief minister, who has to serve as subordinate to Faryal Talpur, Zulfiqar Mirza and Siraj Durrani, was equally pliable to the demands of Tappi. He, however, enjoyed some 10-15% say in the affairs of the government in pre-Tappi days.
For example, it is explained that Zulfiqar Mirza would not let CM suspend a DSP in the SITE of Karachi on the charges of negligence but would allow him to request Mirza for posting of an inspector once in a while.
Similarly, in earlier days, the CM would not be allowed to even think of posting secretaries in the departments run by important ministers, but would be allowed some say in unimportant departments. The CM’s son, the sources added, was also allowed to get a few cases of land allotments approved while major chunk went to Dr Zulfiqar Mirza.
Tappi, however, was not ready to concede even that little margin to the CM, and now he has decided the key appointments in the provincial administration. It was unbelievable and shocking as earlier all decisions, though taken by someone else, were a matter of formality pronounced by the Sindh chief minister. Tappi couldn’t tolerate even that formality. Now, the chief minister has been barred by Tappi from passing any major decisions without orders from Tappi, the sources said.
In fact, the chief minister asked for it, one of these sources said, adding that Mr Tappi used to force his way into the Chief Minister’s House with a nine vehicles motorcade and go straight into the office of the chief minister without any concern for the CM’s engagements.
The CM would put everything aside to pay attention to the “viceroy”, but Shah of late asked his secretary to request Mr Tappi to very kindly and graciously take the trouble of prearranging the time schedule of such meetings before coming to the CM’s House.
The source said that the secretary to the CM, not knowing that he was being led into a deep ditch by his weak boss, very humbly conveyed such sentiments to Mr Tappi, but the very next day, the chief minister received orders from the President’s House to transfer his Secretary Kabeer Kazi and take a nominee of Mr Tappi as his Secretary.
The new secretary, it is said, is so conscious of his duty that he only takes those files to CM which are approved by Mr Tappi. For all practical purposes, these sources said, the new appointee is secretary to the de facto CM, Mr Tappi.
This single incident has drastically changed the entire scenario of provincial governance. The chief secretary, it is said, now does not even consult his chief minister before issuing the orders desired by Mr Tappi. However, he is very cautious in carrying out orders issued by the CM (which are hardly any during the day) and is supposed to seek approval from Tappi, before implementing CM’s orders, if any.
Another posting ordered by Mr Tappi was of Mr Sualeh Faruqui, DG, Provincial Disaster Management Authority, who was asked to sign vendor agreement with a selected party. On his refusal, he was transferred and made an OSD. He has been replaced by a very compliant officer Aijaz Mangi, who had been working as Fisheries DG since past three years, under an officer six years junior to him. He is still in BS 19.
Tappi is not alone in running his fiefdom called the Sindh Province, these sources said and add that he is very ably assisted by a highly controversial aging bureaucrat of all seasons from Islamabad. Over 70 bureaucrat, the sources said, has been visiting Sindh and holding meetings with the chief secretary as well as ministers and secretaries taking briefings, issuing instructions and reinforcing the writ of the president’s adopted step-brother. The officials are very clearly told to get major decisions from Mr Tappi and not to take instructions from the chief minister.
Syed Qaim Ali Shah, the besieged Chief Minister, gets only pity from the provincial bureaucracy for his helplessness, but at the same time, people wonder what is left there in the package deal for the CM to continue in such embarrassing circumstances. “It maybe the lure of an occasional land allotment case, taken to the Board of Revenue by his son or such other favors for the rest of his family members,” a source commented.
“Whatever the reasons for the elderly Shah to continue like this or for the President’s House to make such an arrangement for the unfortunate province, which blindly votes in the name of Bhutto, the fact is that the government machinery in Sindh has come to a grinding halt,” the source lamented.
The officials avoid making proposals, which may require the CM’s approval as they know that the chief minister’s powers have been suspended, and the de facto CM Tappi, they would rather avoid to go to.
“Mr Zardari, is this the way to pay the province which gave you historical support—destroying it completely and crippling its development and economy comprehensively? Please have some mercy on poor people of Sindh,” the source whimpered.