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May 5, 2021

Inter-civil service rivalries have pushed bureaucracy to new low

Top Story

May 5, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Rivalries among different services within the civil bureaucracy have pushed the civil service to a new low. The most recent example of this divide was the statement issued by the All Pakistan Provincial Management Services Officers Association against Chief Secretary Punjab for condemning the humiliating treatment meted out to the Assistant Commissioner Sialkot by the Punjab CM’s media adviser Firdous Ashiq Awan.

The association in its statement said on Monday that the officers belonging to the provincial services stand by the provincial government and will not allow any federal service or its top representative—the chief secretary in this case—to blackmail the province because of one incident. Significantly, the provincial association did not condemn the incident that had attracted a great deal of media attention.

The Sialkot AC, who was publicly scolded by Firdous Ashiq Awan in Sialkot on Sunday, belongs to the Pakistan Administrative Service, which, according to the provincial services association, has ‘usurped’ the rights of provincial civil servants by occupying their posts in the provinces.

Reacting to the Sialkot incident, Punjab Chief Secretary Jawwad Rafique Malik had said that the harsh treatment meted out in public to an administrative officer in Sialkot’s Ramzan bazaar was condemnable. He added that Assistant Commissioner Sonia Sadaf and other administrative officers were on the frontline despite the scorching heat and the Corona pandemic. He mentioned that the use of foul language against any officer or staff was condemnable.

The association representing the provincial services had formally approached Prime Minister Imran Khan last year with the demand that all the incumbent chief secretaries in all the provinces be withdrawn and replaced by provincial civil servants to be appointed by the respective provincial governments.

Following a meeting of the All Pakistan Provincial Management Services Officers Association, the Association’s coordinator Tariq Mahmood Awan had written a letter to the Prime Minister highlighting that under the scheme of the Constitution it is the chief minister’s authority, and not that of the establishment division, Islamabad, to appoint the chief secretary

“Thus, notifications of the Establishment Division of posting of all four chief secretaries be withdrawn being unconstitutional and against the law and only respective provincial governments may be allowed to post chief secretaries belonging to the provincial service as per scheme and spirit of the Constitution,” the letter read.

The PM was conveyed that the whole scheme of the Constitution clearly explained that exercising federal executive authority on matters relating to the provinces was a violation of the Constitution. The letter added that the posting of chief secretaries by the establishment division is tantamount to exercising provincial executive authority and legislative authority and a violation of the Constitution.

The provincial civil servant association is of the view that the post of chief secretary falls under the legislative control of the respective provincial assembly. “It simply means that executive authority of the province shall extend to the matters where the provincial assembly has the authority to make laws. It clarifies that post of chief secretary falls under the provincial executive authority being post of the province,” it contended in a letter written last year.

Referring to Article 129, the association added: “The executive authority of the province shall be exercised by the provincial government, consisting of the chief minister and provincial ministers and the chief minister may exercise it directly or through the provincial ministers.” The letter said that the chief minister of the province has all the legal and constitutional authority to post the chief secretary of a province.