The dying days of the government have brought a surprise reshuffle in the Islamabad city government, as the Islamabad Chief Commissioner has been transferred to the Capital Development Authority (CDA) as its chairman.
Tariq Mahmood Pirzada, a BS-21 officer, has been appointed chairman in place of Tahir Shahbaz, BS-21 officer of Pakistan Administrative Service, who only took charge as CDA chairman on October 2, 2012. Pirzada is the 28th chairman of the authority, and is due to retire from service this year.
Shahbaz served the authority for just over five months. Although no significant development project was initiated during his short tenure, Shahbaz tried his best to streamline the affairs of the authority, including addressing endemic corruption.
An officer of good repute, Shahbaz had recently taken some tough decisions which may have led to his removal.
Under Shahbaz, the management of the authority was reluctant to approve the creation of additional residential plots in the layout plan of Sector I-8, going against the desires of Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, said an official on condition of anonymity.
Ashraf has recently approved the allotment of one-kanal residential plots to eight officers who are performing services in the Prime Minister House, including his principal secretary, military secretary, deputy military secretary, ADCs and director security, he added.
For the past two days, the PM’s military secretary and other officers had been trying to pressurise the CDA’s top management to approve the creation of additional plots in Sector I-8. On Saturday, these officers visited the office of the Planning and Design member and stayed there for hours. Civic agency sources claimed they also presented a letter carrying directions for the CDA chairman to approve the creation of new plots.
After the request went unfulfilled, Saturday evening brought the news that Shahbaz had been removed from his post.
Incidentally, on the direction of Shahbaz, CDA Environment Member Dr Kazim Niaz recently completed an inquiry into the out-of-the-way creation of some 80 plots in Sector I-8. Sources said Shahbaz was waiting for the installation of an interim government so that he could take action against influential people in light of the report’s findings.
Several CDA officers were also unhappy with him after he cancelled a number of dubious plots allotments and initiated inquiry into the matter. During his short tenure, Shahbaz cancelled the license of Bahria Dasterkhawn — located in front of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences — removed encroachments from around a kiosk owned by the brother of Interior Minister Rehman Malik, and took actions against several other influential people and CDA officers on the recommendations of the Islamabad High Court.
Operation against non-conforming use of residential units and agro-farms was also scaled up during the same period and a number of business outlets located in residential areas were sealed. Some of the farms and businesses were owned by well-connected parties.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Shahbaz said it was the discretion of the federal government to appoint or remove anyone from any position. “There are no hard feelings. I am happy with the decision. I was appointed and now I stand transferred, it’s a routine matter in government service,” Shahbaz said. However, he politely declined to comment on the issue of plot allotments on the request of the PM.
Shahbaz was posted as additional secretary Ministry of Production later in the day.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2013.
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