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January 22, 2021

Test of PM’s resolve to implement new rotation policy in bureaucracy

Top Story

January 22, 2021

ISLAMABAD: A new rotation policy for the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) and Police Service of Pakistan (PSP) has been implemented with effect from January 1, 2021, with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s resolve to enforce it in letter and spirit.

However, the provinces have already started creating problems amid reports that Punjab, in particular, has sought time to relieve several BS-21 officers who were to be moved out of the province as per the rotation policy.

Informed sources say that there are hurdles in implementing the policy but the prime minister is determined to implement it. However, it is feared that in case too many exceptions are created, the policy would meet the same fate as the earlier similar policies of successive governments.

Over the past few decades, different governments have been trying to implement such a rotation policy, also known as the inter-provincial transfer policy, but no government has successfully implemented it because of influential bureaucrats who have used their connections to continue staying in the province of their choice. Generally, it is Punjab, and to be more precise the Lahore-based bureaucracy, that has been foiling repeated efforts by successive governments to rotate them between different federating units.

Within months of coming to power, Prime Minister Imran Khan also tried to implement the policy of inter-provincial transfers but his government failed because of the non-cooperation of the provinces. Later, it was decided to make a new policy in consultation with all the provinces ensuring its enforcement without any exception once it is notified and implemented.

After year-long deliberations and consultations with the provinces, the PTI government in the first week of August last year notified a new rotation policy for the PAS and PSP and announced its implementation with effect from January 1, 2021.

While promoting the last batch of BS-22 officers, the government also deferred for promotion those BS-21 officers who were not moving out of the province of their domicile of choice. Such officers are mostly based in Lahore.

Sources said that the officers were told that despite otherwise being fit for promotion, their promotions had been deferred because they were refusing to serve outside the province of their domicile. They were advised to accept their transfer to other provinces or to the Centre to ensure they are promoted in future.

The sources said that some officers from Lahore told the government that they could not serve outside Lahore because of personal reasons and were even willing to sacrifice their promotions to the highest grade, BS-22.

The new rotation policy was to be implemented with effect from January 1, 2021 without any exception. The policy was also linked with the promotion of the officers to ensure that all governments are served by PAS/PSP officers in various grades and the tendency of officers to remain in one government for years by bringing extraneous pressures is checked and curbed.

“There shall be no exception to the application of the policy on any grounds whatsoever, including gender or marital status, except where expressly stated,” the policy said, adding that the standard exceptions like personal hardship and spousal location, which are a norm in many other cadres and departments across the country, shall not be available to PAS and PSP officers, given the primacy, priority and eminence of their service groups and positions they occupy.” It added that the wedlock policy shall also not be applicable to PAS/PSP officers.

The policy is meant to regulate the transfer/posting of PAS/PSP officers falling in the following categories: a) first allocation, and service after completion of specialised training programme, in a government other than of an officer’s province of domicile; b) mandatory service in hard areas for male officers in BS-17 to 19; c) rotation of officers serving for long continuous periods at one geographical location; d) rationalisation of shortage of officers in each grade, among all the governments, by transferring least rotated officers to government(s) with highest shortage.

According to the policy, no officer of BS-20 and below will be allowed to serve in a government for more than 10 years continuously. The period spent on leave, training and foreign postings shall not be considered as a break. Once an officer has been compulsorily rotated under the policy, male officers shall not return to the government of their previous ten-year posting before completing two years at stations of their posting situated outside of the geographical limits of the government of their ten-year posting.

The current officers who have served continuously for ten years or more in any of the government shall be transferred to other governments in three phases spanning over six months and starting with the officers who have longest tenures in a government. Female officers will be rotated in the second and third phase.

To meet the shortage of officers in any government, the officers can be rotated even before completion of ten years of continuous service and the least rotated will be transferred first.

An officer shall not be considered eligible for promotion to BS-21 if he/she has been serving in a government continuously for more than ten years and until he/she has been transferred out of that government. This provision shall become applicable after two years from the date of notification of the policy.