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February 26,2018

Ahad’s arrest fallout: NAB, govt tussle leads to delay in PAS polls

Ziaullah Niazi

LAHORE: Owing to the ongoing turmoil after Ahad Cheema’s arrest, the annual election of Pakistan Administrative Service, formerly known has District Management Group, scheduled on Sunday were postponed.This has also led to a tussle between the Punjab government and NAB.

On the other hand, a PAS delegation met the chief secretary on Sunday evening and the latter apprised them of the situation following the arrest of Cheema and steps taken in this connection. During the meeting, civil servants’ basic rights, transparency in their accountability process and ensuring impartiality were also discussed. The chief secretary directed the officers to continue their professional responsibilities according to the law.

A senior PAS officer on condition of anonymity told this correspondent that election was postponed as most of the active members of the association were preoccupied in the scenario regarding Cheema’s arrest and the strike call. The next date of the election would be announced later, he added. While talking about the situation arising after the strike call, he was of the view no new intimation was given to the officers about the continuation of the pen-down strike. However, he was of the view that hopefully majority of the offices would remain open. A senior bureaucrat posted in Islamabad, however, said the PAS election was postponed due to non-availability of some members of the PAS election committee.

Another officer said only a few officers — who are closed to Ahad Cheema or are afraid of NAB’s action against them — may not join their respective offices to put pressure on the NAB and the government as well. “The failed pen-down strike adversely affected the image of the PAS. We should have taken into confidence the officers before taking such a strong stance,” he observed.

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Secretary Capt Zahid Saeed (retd) visited Ahad Cheema’s official residence. He assured the family that justice would be done and the government would provide every kind of legal assistance to him.

On the other hand, the Provincial Management Service and PAS are still at loggerheads over the issue of pen-down strike. While talking to The News, PMS General Secretary Naveed Shahzad Mirza said the PMS officers would remain in their offices today (Monday) across the province and would discharge their official duties. He said the PMS’s total strength is 1,200, while the PAS has around 150 to 200 officers in the province. He said it was not possible for the PAS to close the whole Punjab’s public offices with a small strength; therefore the Friday’s strike call was a failure.

Naveed Shahzad said “We will not defend individual corruption of any officer. We have asked the PAS representatives to meet the chief minister and propose amendments in the NAB law if they think that NAB has crossed its limits”.

Furthermore, he said “we will only support you if the political government will support you on the issue of pen-down strike, on which they told us that the government is not in favour of strike. Later, the PAS representatives released a joint communiqué without taking us into confidence, which the PMS already has rejected”. He said after the Friday’s meeting between the PAS and PMS which ended without reaching any agreement, the PAS representative did not contact them though it was decided that they would meet again on Saturday morning to sort out the issue.


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