ISLAMABAD: Jockeying for the next general elections, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz has begun placing trusted bureaucrats in key positions which would eventually allow them to play vital roles in the interim setup and later on as well.
The underpinnings of the action are evident from the promotions carried out by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif during the last three Central Selection Boards (CSBs).
Senior officers in the bureaucracy are convinced that the government is eyeing the upcoming elections.
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The PM recently promoted about 400 senior civil servants and dropped 94 others while about 250 officers were superseded by the CSB. The CSB will not consider their cases for promotion again for at least another year.
While referring back to the promotions of the other 94 officers from grade 19 to 20 and 20 to 21, Nawaz expressed reservations about their eligibility and the decision-making powers of CSB Chairman Naveed Akram Cheema and other board members.
Sources revealed that the decision to hold back promotions was taken on a report from the intelligence agencies. Interestingly, CSB had recommended the names of over 600 names after due consideration of these agencies as well.
Background talks with officers substantiate that the perception in bureaucracy that things are not as ‘normal’ with recent promotions. The dejected officers have planned to move different courts against the CSB’s decision.
The majority of officers are convinced the government is planning to promote officers it trusts to grade 21 and 22 again, likely in May and June.
“The way the promotions were carried out and planned has set off alarm bells among hundreds of officers who are neutral as only those are being blessed who directly or indirectly have links with the ruling party,” said a senior officer who did not want to be named like other officers The Express Tribune spoke to.
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Currently, there are several officers serving on key posts who are trusted by the ruling PML-N. All of them will be at the helm of affairs during the 2018 general elections.
The list includes AJK Chief Secretary Raja Sikander Sultan, Balochistan Chief Secretary Shoaib Mir, G-B Chief Secretary Tahir Hasan, DG Civil Service Academy Maroof Afzal, Additional Interior Secretary Tariq Mehmood, Pasco Chairperson Mushtaq Khichi.
According to sources, about a dozen more blue-eyed officers of the PML-N who are likely to be promoted to grade 22 in the upcoming months, will be federal secretaries during the next elections. An officer feared that even if the interim setup removed those chief secretaries and IGs holding charge, bureaucrats at the federal level would be the ultimate replacements.
Establishment Division Secretary Tahir Shahbaz rubbished the role of PM secretariat in such appointments and said all the officers were appointed through proper procedure. About the appointments, he said the PM is the final authority and SC has also observed that if PM has such intelligence reports then he can use that authority, he said.
He also admitted that “unfortunately our system is ineffective and the government is already conducting civil service reforms on the issue”. He also added that there was a need of improvement in the system.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 13th, 2017.
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