If rhetoric of the PTI leadership were to be believed, one would find honey and milk flowing on the roads and streets of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Practically, though, the boot is on the other foot.
Due to serious squabbles among the administrative departments, KP’s administration structure has caved in and lost the ability to deliver. The Provincial Civil Service and the Pakistan Administrative Service (DMG) form the backbone of provincial administration. Unfortunately, the constant tussle going on between these two groups to secure power-wielding lucrative slots has reduced the administrative machinery to a tug of war.
On May 3, on the call of the Provincial Civil Service Officers Association – 700 in number from across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Fata – a two-hour strike was observed to protest discrimination and victimisation in postings and promotion. This is the second time in one year that provincial officers are on strike.
In August last year the provincial chief secretary, who belongs to the Pakistan Administrative Services, had assured the strikers that their grievances would be addressed. But the provincial officers claim that victimisation and discrimination has increased after the August strike. They also say that due to biased enquiries competent officers from BS-17 to BS-21 have been marginalised.
The PCS officers consider the federal bureaucracy, represented by PAS officers, as the stumbling block in the dispensation of smooth administration.
The sour relations between the federal and provincial officers worsened when a PCS officer, Fahd Ikram Qazi, working as assistant political agent of North Waziristan was made to stop work and his entry into the agency was stopped by the agency’s political agent.
The PCS officers have now decided that they will increase the duration of their strike from two to four hours – wearing black arm bands in protest. How can the government function, much less plan and implement public-centric innovative works, when the two major groups – PCS and PAS – are at loggerheads?
Another volley was fired at the head of the provincial administration, Chief Secretary Amjad Ali Khan, by the recently removed director of the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE), Ziaullah Toru. The latter alleged that his unceremonious removal from the post was sequel consequence of his initiating a corruption case against the chief secretary’s brother and relatives of the KP chief minister, who had been doled out the entire contract of the ‘Billion Tree Tsunami Project’. Experts had criticised the project as several non-native trees had been selected for plantation.
Earlier, due to lack of homework, the process of introduction of the Ehtesab Act was badly handled by the civil administration. The PTI government had formed a very effective anti-corruption body, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission, with an all-encompassing rules and procedure, last year. It was also headed by the no-nonsense Lt-Gen (r) Hamid Khan.
This body functioned with absolute transparency leading to Imran Khan boasting of the success of the anti-corruption drive within Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, when it appeared that the commission was to probe the misdoings of the chief minister and other senior bureaucrats the government’s stance on the accountability process changed.
In February last year, the government promulgated the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission (Amendment) Ordinance 2016, making the director general powerless. The general had no option but to tender his resignation from the commission on February 10. The amended bill became controversial as well due to the clipped wings of the DG and lax amendments that provided an easy escape route to the accused.
Finally, Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra issued an order to withdraw the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission (Amended) Ordinance 2016. And now yet another Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Ehtesab Commission Amendment Bill has been introduced in the provincial assembly on May 7; this law aims to restrict the commission to deal with cases involving corruption of Rs50 million and above.
The provincial police, another significant organ for the smooth functioning of the government, have also shown signs of disenchantment. On March 28, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police had notified reshuffle of Regional Police Officers (RPO) and District Police Officers (DPO). That caused resentment among some of the senior police officers who missed getting the coveted field postings. The dissidents claimed that the Inspector General of Police, Nasir Khan Durrani, had ignored five BS-20 officers for the post of RPO and posted junior officers of BS-19 on acting charge basis.
As a protest a BS-20 Commandant Police Training Center, Hangu, wrote to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police chief, asking that his services be surrendered to Islamabad. Earlier, too, the DIG traffic fought tooth and nail to cancel his posting to Balochistan.
These cops are advised to take a cue from army officers who at the time of commissioning make an oath to “...go wherever I may be ordered to move by land, air or sea”.
The writer is a retired colonel.