ISLAMABAD: The unprecedented bureaucratic reshuffle undertaken in Punjab has put pressure on the federal interim government and other provinces to shuffle key position holders.
However, no administrative changes have so far been practically made in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Balochistan, Islamabad Capital Territory and key ministries of the federal government.
The mother of departments as it is popularly known in civil service – the Establishment Division - is still manned by the bureaucrats generally considered to be blue eyed boys of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q).
Similarly federal sectaries for information, interior and cabinet and heads of National Database & Registration Authority (Nadra), Pakistan Electronic Media Authority (Pemra), Pakistan Television Corporation (PTV) and Radio Pakistan who have a pivotal role in the elections remain unchanged.
Not a single change has also so far been made in the Prime Minister Secretariat strengthening the impression that the present set up was an extension of the previous PPP regime. Many of these PPP appointees blatantly keep on posting messages and statements on the social media in support of their PPP employers.
In the three provinces, earlier, ruled by the PPP and its coalition partners, Chief Secretaries, IGPs, Home Secretaries, Finance Secretaries, Principal Secretaries to the chief ministers and additional chief secretaries remain unchanged.
Senior civil servants working in Islamabad, who have insights on working of the Punjab bureaucracy, have their own analysis to offer. According to them there is a clear method in recent transfers and postings of highest level.
Rao Iftikhar, who has been posted as additional chief secretary in Punjab, has assumed a role more important than even the well-reputed Chief Secretary, Javed Iqbal. Although Iftikhar was formally posted a day back, he had practically taken over the Punjab civil secretariat for the last four days, without any formal order by federal or provincial government, an insider told The News. Iftikhar gained prominence when he was posted by PPP-PML-Q government as Punjab Home Secretary during the Governor Rule, to lead the effort to block the long march. Before that, he was removed by then Punjab chief minister as food secretary. Iftikhar was the district coordination officer (DCO) of Gujrat for many years when Chaudhry Parvaiz Elahi was the chief minister.
The caretakers opted for Amjad Bhatti as Director General Public Relations, which is an extremely important position. He was public relations officer of Chief Minister Parvaiz Elahi from 2002 to 2007. Now, he sits in a room adjacent to caretaker chief minister’s office at 7 Club Road Lahore, the official secretariat of the chief minister.
Noor Mengal, who was first Baloch officer in Pakistan’s history to be head of district administration Lahore, has also been removed. The reason cited is that he had worked as staff officer to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif. But he has been replaced by Syed Rizwan Mahboob, who until recently was working as personal staff officer to former Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Asharaf. His father-in-law, Sessions Judge (Retd) Rafique Shah works in the Presidency and is known for his connections with a prominent political family of the PML-Q.
The new Commissioner Lahore, Naseem Nawaz, was made the DCO Lahore during the five-week long governor rule. CCPO Lahore Khaliqdad Luk is brother-in-law of former PML-Q MNA and its present National Assembly candidate from Bhalwal Ghais Mela. However, the massive changes in Punjab failed to touch Health Secretary Arif Nadeem although his sister, Dr Yasmeen Rashid, who is a Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) senior leader, is contesting elections from NA-120 Lahore against PML-N President Nawaz Sharif. Similarly Finance Secretary Tariq Bajwa, who worked with Shahbaz Sharif for three years, has not been shifted although his wife has been a PML-Q MNA, and his brother-in-law is contesting elections from Wazirabad on the PTI ticket.
The slot of the Local Government secretary has been given to Ali Raza Bhutta, a DMG officer, who was removed from Punjab for failing to successfully deliver the land computerization project. He has close links with Rao Iftikhar.
Sohail Ahmad, a senior DMG officer, who has been posted as Planning and Development Chairman, was appointed on the same position during governor rule. He was finance secretary of Chief Minister Parvaiz Elahi.
In a Tweet, Shahbaz Sharif said “Massive admin changes in Punjab; none in other provinces. EC (election commission) must ensure a level playing field for everyone & everywhere.”The PML-N, is deeply irked by the massive bureaucratic reshuffle, and has set up a cell at its Lahore headquarters to monitor the conduct and working of newly posted officers.