Touching a raw nerve

The Chief Secretary of Punjab, Akbar Durrani, has had his feathers ruffled

Editorial September 07, 2018

The Chief Secretary of Punjab, Akbar Durrani, has had his feathers ruffled. He has instructed deputy commissioners to refrain from making public their objections to political interference in their work. If they have concerns about political interference then they should instead refer matters to their senior and ‘develop good relations with legislators’. Field officers are now instructed not to make any comment on matters of concern on social media or otherwise share with media platforms.

An emergency meeting had been called which was the first activity of the chief secretary since his appointment, and it is clear that a raw nerve has been touched. Political interference has long been a bone of contention, whether it is in the matter of appointments where interference is rife in every province and not just Punjab, or the arm-twisting that goes on when politicians want to get a particular result that is close to their hearts. The meeting was told that the public was ‘alarmed’ at the objection to interference by field officers — yet we can find no trace of any widespread public alarm at such activities. Indeed inasmuch as any evidence can be found by a diligent search of social media it suggests that the public are annoyed and irritated by such interference but hardly alarmed.

The principal culprits when it comes to interference are — allegedly — politicians of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf whose activities have provoked what was described to the meeting as a ‘revolt’. The new government has been in post a matter of days and already there is a revolt within the civil service? Mr Durrani is chastising the wrong people. It is legislators that need to be whipped into line and told in no uncertain terms to back off and behave themselves. Too much to hope for, perhaps.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2018.

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