Punjab-Centre standoff prevails

Sumbal’s tenure extended as acting CS


RAMEEZ KHAN October 01, 2022

LAHORE:

With murmurs of the federal government considering appointing a chief secretary in Punjab soon ending deadlocking on at least CS’s appointment front, the provincial government, according to Special Assistant to Chief Minister Hasan Khawar, has decided to extend the tenure of the incumbent Acting Chief Secretary Abdullah Khan Sumbal.

Planning and Development Board Chairman Abdullah Khan Sumbal was given additional charge of chief secretary Punjab for 14 days starting on September 17 and ending on September 30, after Kamran Ali Afzal, who had developed differences with the provincial government went on a 14-day leave.

Khawar said they will extend the tenure of the acting chief secretary, allowing him to continue functioning as Punjab CS, in place of Kamran, whose holidays are too expected to be extended.

He said they will expect the federal government to appoint a permanent CS for the smooth functioning of the provincial administration. On extending Sumbal’s tenure as the acting CS, he said the decision to this extent was yet to be taken.

Furthermore, he said notification issuances on September 30 were not necessary, it can be issued later.

Khawar said Sumbal’s tenure will continue to be extended allowing him to function as acting CS, till the federal government appoints CS in Punjab. He said that the Centre should appoint from three names they had proposed, back in August; all are officers of impeccable repute. The provincial government had August, forwarded a panel of three names to the federal government which included Babar Hayat Tarar, Ahmed Nawaz, and Abdullah Khan Sumbal, however federal government is yet to appoint a CS in Punjab.

These names were sent a few days after the incumbent CS Kamran Ali Afzal wrote to the federal government requesting to be posted out of the province, citing personal reasons.

He, later in September, again reminded the federal government of his desire to be posted out, however, upon getting no answer, the CS went on a four-day leave. The CS’s decision of going on leave was appreciated by the Punjab government.

Sources said the federal government was in the process of finalising the name of CS Punjab. He said names that were taken around, said to be amongst serious contenders, also included names of officers that were not proposed by the Punjab government.

“The federal government is getting nothing out of this exercise of delaying the process, so it should better do the needful to end and get done with the appointment process,” he remarked.

Khawar, when asked if an officer other than the ones they have proposed get a nod for the slot of the CS, will they accept him, said that they might.

“If an officer known of integrity is appointed as the CS, we will welcome his appointment, however, if a person with known political leaning is appointed, then they will not let him take charge of the office.”

Principle Secretary to CM Muhammad Khan Bhatti talking to The Express Tribune said the tenure of the CS could be extended, however, the decision has thus far not been taken. He, however, said extending tenure was in their power, so that was not a big issue.

The chief secretary’s appointment was not the only front, in which the Federal government was trying to exert its authority on Punjab, the police service was also facing a similar rather serious crisis where Punjab has thus far failed to get an IG of their choosing.

Furthermore, the federal government was also trying to get Lahore CCPO Ghulam Mehmood Dogar repatriated without the consent of the province, which too has strained the relations between the Centre and the province. On the face of it, it seems that the federal government was trying to deliberately impede the working of the Punjab government by disregarding their authority. Punjab Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal, who was posted by the PTI government itself, made himself controversial during PML-N’s provincial tenure, when he had overseen controversial oath taking ceremony for Hamza Shehbaz, that was organized at the Governor House against incumbent governor’s will and against any rules or orders.

It was during this PML-N’s government’s tenure, with Kamran at the helm of affairs, that state machinery was used to suppress PTI protesters, employing oppressive measures even against women and children which included vandalising property of private citizens and gas shelling at protesters including women and children.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 1st, 2022.

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