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October 23, 2020

Bureaucracy not happy

Top Story

October 23, 2020

ISLAMABAD: A top bureaucrat on Thursday evening contacted this scribe to convey a very message. With a voice full of emotion, he said: “What NAB has done today constitutes nothing less than a bloodbath of honest civil servants.” It’s a “death knell” for the civil service, he said, and maintained that it would plunge the already low morale and spirit of the bureaucracy to unfathomable depths. He added that four federal secretaries and two inspector generals of Police (IGPs), all with an good reputation and record, have been booked by the NAB on “questionable charges”. When The News spoke to some other senior members of the bureaucracy about the decisions taken by NAB’s executive board on Thursday, the response was unanimous: they will result in absolute dysfunctionality and bring to a grinding halt the decision-making process in an already poorly performing government. These sources said that former interior secretary and Secretary to the President, Shahid Khan, who had served with great distinction and an unblemished record as Secretary Haj, DG Haj and Home Secretary Punjab, has been named for an ‘offence’ which is a normal practice in many institutions.

As Chairman Police Foundation, Shahid Khan was allotted a commercial plot in a Police Foundation housing scheme as an entitled benefit for chairman National Police Foundation, these sources said, adding that the allotment of commercial plots to retired grade 21 and 22 officers is a long-standing practice in all DHAs. Another IG rank officer, Rafique Butt, has also been nominated in the reference for allotting the plot to Shahid Khan.

NAB has also named several highly regarded officers as accused, along with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in a reference on the purchase of 73 security vehicles. They include former foreign secretary Azaz Chaudhry, who has been Pakistan’s ambassador to the USA, and is reputed to be extremely hard working and holds an immaculate service record and has a reputation for integrity.

In the same reference, Aftab Sultan, former Punjab IG Police and DG IB, who is considered by many as the pride of the Police Service of Pakistan, as well as Fawad Hasan Fawad, the former principal secretary to the prime minister, has been challaned. These high security vehicles were purchased for the use of visiting foreign dignitaries. Fawad Hasan Fawad, who has already spent almost two years in jail because of NAB, also enjoys an excellent reputation.

Informed sources said that the armoured and bomb proof vehicles were imported for visiting heads of government on the advice of the Foreign Office. Since this was an urgent emergency procurement, it was done through the Intelligence Bureau.

A senior officer aware of the whole case said these are the same vehicles which are being used by the incumbent prime minister and by high profile world leaders visiting Pakistan. The allocation, use and maintenance of this VVIP fleet is under the control of the Military Secretary to the PM, usually a serving brigadier.

Fawad Hasan Fawad, who has already suffered two years in jail in the Asiana case and assets beyond means case involving his entire family, has again been included as accused in the vehicle case. The arrest of Fawad Hasan Fawad and Ahad Cheema a few years back by NAB had caused dismay and demoralisation in the civil bureaucracy.

Sources said that Asif Sheikh, a well reputed technocrat of the Planning Commission, has also been named as co-accused in the Narowal Sports City reference along with former planning and interior minister and present Secretary General of the PML-N, Ahsan Iqbal.

Three provincial secretary-level officers -- two from PAS/DMG and one from the Balochistan civil service -- have also been accused of abuse of authority and referred for prosecution to a NAB court.

Dostain Jamaldini, a technocrat from the Balochistan government, has been named as co-accused along with former CM Balochistan Aslam Raisani. Wasim Ajmal, who was arrested twice in the Saaf Pani and Solid Waste Management cases and released on bail each time after very damning orders against NAB, has again been challaned, this time as co-accused with Imran Ali, the son in law of former CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif.

In all, the names of four federal secretaries, two IGs, and three provincial secretaries have been sent for prosecution by the NAB executive board along with Prime minister Nawaz Sharif, former federal minister Ahsan Iqbal and former Balochistan chief Minister Raisani.

It is said that today’s NAB executive board has also allowed a reference against Iqbal Z Ahmad, who last year had led a group of private businessmen in a meeting with the army chief. Gen Bajwa had invited businessmen to brainstorm about the economic crises confronting the government besides listening to complaints about how businessmen were being hounded and harassed by NAB.

There is deep dismay and anger over NAB’s actions within the civil service. “Shahid Khan, Azaz Chaudhry and Aftab Sultan are considered role models of the DMG, Foreign Service and Police Service,” an official source said, adding, “October 22, 2020 will be remembered as the darkest day for the civil service of Pakistan.” He said that former IB chief Aftab Sultan’s contribution to the anti-terrorism campaign is unmatched and legendary. He added that from 2013 to 2018 under Aftab Sultan’s command, the Intelligence Bureau broke the backbone of terror networks through intelligence-based operations all over the country. He lamented: “Is this the way nations reward their heroes and legends?”

The source demanded the setting up of a commission to look into the working of NAB. Otherwise, he feared, the wheels of the civil service will come to a grinding halt and the country will be seriously damaged.