Chess between institutions: Senior bureaucrats serve as ‘pawns’

Khushnood Lashari gets charge of Establishment Secretary, Sohail Ahmed made OSD.

Haider Naseem July 31, 2011


Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister Khushnood Lashari has been assigned the additional charge of establishment secretary. He replaces Sohail Ahmed, who has been made an ‘officer on special duty’ (OSD) for complying with the Supreme Court orders, it has been learnt.

Ahmed had issued a notification ordering the transfer of Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) Inspector-General of Police Hussain Asghar, a grade 20 officer, back to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) as director, after the directives from the apex court.

Establishment Division Additional Secretary-II Khalid Akhlaq Gilani was also made OSD on Friday.

Sources said that Sohail Ahmed reappointed Hussain Asghar to the FIA without the permission of Prime Minister (PM) Yousaf Raza Gilani. He added that Ahmed was not bound to inform the PM or seek his permission. But the PM removed Ahmed, who took over the post on July 8 and made him an OSD.

According to the Civil Service Manual, the establishment secretary has the authority to appoint or transfer officers up to Grade-20. A summary to the PM is sent only for grades 21 and 22, or in cases involving inspector-generals of police. Since the prime minister is the competent authority, he sends back the summary to the Establishment Division, where the establishment secretary issues the notification.

Another official added that it was not Sohail Ahmed’s call to transfer Asghar from the post of IG Gigit-Baltistan without sending a summary to the PM.

In a similar order issued recently by the Supreme Court, former Secretary Establishment Abdul Rauf Chaudhry had appointed Zafar Qureshi, a Grade-21 officer of Police Service of Pakistan, without the approval of the PM.

The former establishment secretary got away with it as Zafar Qureshi was investigating the NICL corruption case at that time.

The OSD posting has been at the centre of civil service reforms and various governments have tried to get rid of this position that is seen as punitive. As OSD, the officer receives salary, but his authority to make decisions or sign a notification is taken away from him.

Sohail Ahmed could hold the position for as little as 18 days. He had taken over after serving as secretary planning for a long time.

Senior officers complained that they are losing their integrity and are being treated as mere pawns in the ongoing tussle between the Supreme Court and the government.

Hussain Asghar served as an investigation officer in the Hajj corruption case, successfully indicting the then Religious Affairs Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi in money-laundering and corrupt practices in Hajj management.

The Establishment Division has notified the transfer and posting of other officials as well.

Establishment Division E-wing Joint Secretary Afzal Latif has been transferred to the Economic Affairs Division in place of Muhammed Asif, who has been made the E-Wing Joint Secretary.

Inamul Haq, a grade-19 officer currently serving in Balochistan, has been posted as Abandoned Properties Organization’s deputy administrator in Islamabad and Tariq Shafiq Khan has been appointed National Fertilizer Marketing Limited managing director.

Moreover, Hamidul Hussain, presently working as Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan deputy secretary, has been transferred to the Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Council Secretariat. Amjad Ahmed has been transferred to AJK.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 31th,  2011.


james bryan | 11 years ago | Reply

hussain asghar did not indict anything against the former minister of religious affairs and hajj... this is the third time i'm coming across such a statement in online news... i wonder if editor cares to confirm the news

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