Imran Khan builds an excellent team of bureaucrats

By Ansar Abbasi
August 29, 2018

Prime Minister Imran Khan chairs meeting of the Federal Cabinet at PM Office.

ISLAMABAD: Controversies and embarrassments in other areas for the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf administration aside, one big plus so far for the Imran Khan government is its selection of a great team of bureaucrats at the federal level.

In the second phase of key appointments made on Tuesday, the prime minister offered some leading positions in his administration to officers of great repute, both in terms of their integrity and competence.


Imran Khan chose Dr Muhammed Suleman Khan, a Grade 22 officer of the Police Service of Pakistan (PSP), for the role of civilian spymaster as the Director General of the Intelligence Bureau (DG IB).

Suleman had been promoted to Grade 22 and appointed the DG IB earlier this year by former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, following the retirement of the equally reputable Aftab Sultan. However, within a few months of his appointment, Suleman was transferred to the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) by the caretaker government.

Imran Khan has brought him back because of his reputation and experience. Suleman was the IB Joint Director for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) before his elevation to Grade 22 and appointment as DG.

During his tenure at the IB, Khan had to his credit a number of successful counter terrorism and counter intelligence operations in KP, launched by the IB in collaboration with other security and law enforcement agencies.

Dr Jahanzeb Khan, another remarkable officer regarded as the pride of the erstwhile District Management Group (now renamed as the Pakistan Administrative Service), has been appointed as the Chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).

Jehanzeb long served under Shahbaz Sharif’s administration in Punjab. He started his career as an assistant commissioner in Punjab and laterserved as the deputy commissioner of Bannu and Abbotabad. Subsequently, he served as the Punjab’s Chairman of Planning and Development and the Additional Chief Secretary for Energy -- a post created by Shahbaz Sharif to tackle the previous power supply crisis. He also worked as secretary Health and secretary Livestock in the Punjab government. He also served as Pakistan's commercial counselor in Paris.

Jehanzeb has been credited with the success of China Pakistan Economic Corridor projects in Punjab in his role as Chairman Planning. He has also served as Secretary Finance in Punjab and was the moving force behind the creation of the Punjab Revenue Authority.

Although, he left his mark in Punjab, Jehanzeb actually belongs to Peshawar. He is business friendly and pro reforms, and perhaps for these reasons has been given the tough assignment of FBR Chairman. Government sources said that the FBR needs an outsider to shake it up. Imran Khan wants to double the present revenue to Rs8,000 billion within a couple of years. “Let’s see if JK (Jehanzeb Khan) can achieve this,” an official said.

Regarding the appointment of Mehr Khaliq Dad Lak, a Grade 22 officer of the PSP, as Nacta Director General, sources in the bureaucracy said that he, too, was a good choice. Lak is the senior-most PSP officer and, in an ideal world, should have been rewarded for his forthright honesty by being appointed as the Inspector General of Punjab Police. “But no politician can afford him,” said a source, who quipped that the ongoing controversy over the removal of the Pakpattan District Police Officer would have been unthinkable in his presence.

Lak has intelligence background and is a solid policeman, making him suitable to lead Nacta. The government is expected to encourage Lak to re-activate Nacta as an effective counter-terrorism agency.