Deconstructing a reshuffle

Published: October 12, 2017
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Within a couple of months of taking office, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has approved the appointment of 35 new officers. Of those, 24 civil servants have been notified and promoted at this point from Basic Scale grade 21 to grade 22 officers — for all of our notarisation needs. However, one wonders whether the reshuffling of bureaucratic officers was the battle to pick at this time, with so much pending on the political front. Admittedly, we have been conditioned to perceive official actions with a pinch of salt, as there is usually a personal reason behind promotions and transfers. Should the officials have been promoted because they will do an honest and effective job, well and good; but, it is going to take time to build that kind of trust with the public, to be able to accept official transactions as being in the best interest of the country.

The remix comes a day after the report of Uzair Baloch airing the dirty laundry of past officials, senators and members of the police force — mostly PPP members and affiliates. The timing of the promotions is a bit awkward, with the approval just having come on October 5. To disprove the personal gains theory, it must be disclosed publicly as to why these officers were promoted. A parallel can be drawn between Abbasi’s and Baloch’s actions wherein the latter had officials appointed on his recommendations to the fisheries department for example, just as the former has similarly promoted officers in various departments at will.

Against the backdrop of the public airing of Uzair Baloch’s statement and elections on the horizon, we must exercise skepticism at will. We should also exercise caution with every official move at this point and question the motive behind it as time and again, politicians have demonstrated selfishness in political moves. We will watch the moves of the Pakistan Tobacco Board, the Privatisation Committee and others in the coming months to identify to which figures favouritism is displayed.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2017.

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