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April 16, 2019

Shahbaz’s core team back in Punjab bureaucratic reshuffle

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April 16, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Most of the bureaucrats now posted at different key positions in Punjab are good professionals, have reputation for integrity and are known deliverers.

However, all of them had served in principal positions during the Shahbaz Sharif administration, senior officials, who keep an eye on such reshuffles, told The News. Punjab government spokesman Dr Shahbaz Gill said that Chief Minister Usman Buzdar would transfer and post officers where and when he would think it proper.

Officials said the officers now given new assignments had been the “blue-eyed boys” of the former chief minister due to their hard work and professionalism. “They were go-getters. The fresh changes are better,” one of them commented.

Capt (R) Arif Nawaz, who has been appointed the Inspector General of Police (IGP), had served in the same position during the last 18 months of the Shahbaz Sharif government. He is the batch mate of an influential personality.

Arif Nawaz replaced Amjad Javed Saleemi, who was given this assignment on Punjab Governor Chaudhry Sarwar’s recommendation. Reports indicate that Punjab Chief Secretary Yousuf Nasim Khokhar’s transfer is also on the anvil. He is said to be close to Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi for having worked with him when he was the chief minister of Punjab.

It was stated that both the chief secretary and the transferred IGP were not helpful when the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had encircled Shahbaz Sharif’s Model Town, Lahore, residence to arrest Hamza Shahbaz a few days back. Abdullah Sumbal was the powerful Secretary, Coordination, (Principal Staff Officer) and the commissioner of Lahore during Shahbaz Sharif’s government. He was awaiting posting and has now been made the Secretary of the Services & General Administration in place of Ahmad Raza Sarwar.

Nasim Sadiq had served in various critical positions of the district coordination office (DCO) of Lahore, Faisalabad and Multan during the former chief minister’s time. He has now been posted as the food secretary.

Officials said that Nasim Sadiq is well reputed field officer and was considered one of closest bureaucrats to Shahbaz Sharif due to his go-getter approach. He was the officer on special duty (OSD) for the last one year and has now been called out of hibernation to deal with wheat procurement challenge in Punjab.

According to officials, Shoukat Ali, another dynamic and honest officer, who had worked as the finance secretary with the former chief minister and later as the transport secretary in charge of mega project of Lahore Orange Line has now been picked up to spearhead the agriculture reform agenda of the new government.

Ahmad Javed Qazi had served in the powerful position of the Secretary, Implementation, with Shahbaz Sharif in his last three years in office and had been responsible for all development portfolio in Punjab. During that tenure, he had also worked as the irrigation secretary, which, in the Punjab context, is considered important department.

Home Secretary Fazeel Asghar, who is related to a federal minister from Punjab, is believed to be close to another important member of the federal cabinet and had been the DCO and commissioner of Multan during Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) regime in 2008-2013, has been repatriated to the Establishment Division.

The new Secretary to Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Dr Shoaib Akbar, has been on key assignments under Shahbaz Sharif as Special Secretary, Home Secretary, Labour Secretary, and director general of Wildlife dealing with the protocol of guests from the Gulf.

Another good officer, Dr Raheel Ahmad Siddiqui, who has been working as Secretary Coordination, to the chief minister, has been posted as finance secretary in place of Hamed Yaqoob Shaikh.

Officials said that prolonged deliberations were held before introducing the present bureaucratic reshuffle. A key political figure, who enjoys confidence of the prime minister, is said to have played a major role in the present postings and transfers with a view to improve the working of the Punjab government. Besides, two close aides of the chief minister also had a part in these changes. Thus, the government has fallen back on a good team to bring about improvement in the administration.

A prominent leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, which is a weighty coalition partner of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Punjab and at the federal level, told The News on condition of anonymity that his party was not consulted about the present bureaucratic reshuffle and came to know when they were ordered.

He said that the party has asked its two ministers and the lawmakers in Punjab to concentrate on their portfolios and constituencies so that people’s problems are properly attended and the constituents are satisfied. “We give our advice and suggestions only sought by the government in any sphere,” he said. To a question, Chief Minister Buzdar told reporters that it was the privilege of the government to bring about bureaucratic changes.

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