ISLAMABAD: Like the under-transfer Punjab’s Inspector General Police Kaleem Imam, who instead of checking the political interference, transferred the DPO Pakpattan, the Chief Secretary Punjab Akbar Durrani’s reported handling of two deputy commissioners’ complaints against politicisation of bureaucracy has proved disappointing for many in the civilian bureaucracy.
The sources in the civil services feel that initially the IGP’s and later the chief secretary’s response to the political interference conveyed a negative message to the government servants expecting support from the top most bureaucrats in getting the bureaucracy depoliticised.
In a strange decision and at a time when the case of DPO Pakpattan’s controversial transfer following political pressure is pending with the apex court, the officer - Rizwan Gondal - has been surrendered to the federal government by the Punjab government. Gondal was removed from the office of DPO Pakpattan after he allegedly declined the orders of the Chief Minister Punjab to apologize to Khawar Maneka, an influential landowner of the area and ex-husband of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s present wife.
In a suo moto notice, the Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Saqib Nisar while reprimanding the IGP Punjab Kaleem Imam, indicated a possible action against the CM Punjab. The CJP had directed Imam to investigate the case and present a report to the SC within a week. Interestingly, while the matter is sub judice, the Punjab government surrendered Rizwan Gondal to the federal government.
In yet another development that has upset the civilian bureaucracy, the Punjab government intends to take a strict disciplinary action against the two deputy commissioners (DCs), who complained of political interference in the service matters. According to the media reports, the Punjab government is considering action against them for violating the rules of business by writing letters to the chief election commissioner (CEC) and releasing them to the media complaining about political meddling in the official affairs.
An inquiry report into Chakwal DC’s letter to the CEC, Supreme Court and the chief secretary about the alleged political interference by a Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf MNA in official working has been received by the government, a news report published in a national daily on Saturday said, adding the government is waiting for the report about a similar act by the Rajanpur DC. Instead of protecting the bureaucrats from political pressures, the Punjab government is focusing on the issue if the DCs were found breaking the chain of command while registering their complaints.
Like the Punjab police, initial inquiry report which focused on the DPO while conveniently ignoring the chief minister, the probe into the DCs case also does not touch the ruling party MNAs who allegedly sought transfers of Patwaris from the DCs. According to official sources in both the districts - Chakwal and Rajanpur- by-elections will be held and as per the Election Act 2017 after the announcement of schedule for by-elections, the DCs’ action of writing to the CEC and the ECP is not a violation.
Secondly, it is said that when the case was brought to the attention of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, it should be left for the CJP to see whether the DC has violated any law. “The sorry part is that the real issue of political interference is being ignored,” the source said, adding it seems the politicization of bureaucracy is being furthered by putting the officers, who resisted external interference, into bad light.
Following the DCs’ complaints, the Punjab Chief Secretary Akbar Durrani had held a combined Skype and live conference with all administrative secretaries, commissioners and deputy commissioners, and asked them to “respect their chain of command”. He also asked the civil servants to improve relations with the political leaders of their respective areas.
Instead of being protected, the Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry had also said the officers would be “taken to task” for ignoring their chain of command. The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government’s stance against senior civil servants who had pointed out political interference is contrary to the prime minister's widely welcomed promise in his maiden speech to protect and reward the whistle-blowers.