Nawaz to rein in bureaucracy via powerful Sethi

Published June 14, 2013
The image shows Nawaz  Sharif and Nargis Sethi. — File photo
The image shows Nawaz Sharif and Nargis Sethi. — File photo

ISLAMABAD: Soon after assuming power, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is contemplating on making strategic changes in the federal bureaucracy and abolishing the post of secretary establishment is expected to be one such step, sources told Dawn.com.

The expected move is part of the measures the prime minister is aiming to implement at reining in the powerful bureaucracy and for it he is chiefly is relying on Nargis Sethi, a trusted aide of his predecessors, they said.

Sethi as cabinet secretary would handle bureaucratic affairs in case a proposal to abolish the position of secretary establishment is brought about and sanctioned.

Sethi, who has already served as principal secretary to the prime minister in former Pakistan Peoples Party-led government, has also held the additional assignments of secretary water and power and secretary defence.

Her critics say it was during her time as secretary to the prime minister when several controversial appointments were made, including that of Tauqeer Sadiq as Chairman Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra), Adnan Khawaja as Managing Director Oil and Gas Development Company Limited (OGDCL) and Ayaz Niazi as Chairman National Insurance Company Limited (NICL).

These appointments were annulled by the Supreme Court which had also summoned Sethi to explain her position. It was argued that she did not write a single note of dissent on files when the prime minister at the time was making these controversial appointments.

Sethi, who was one of the members of the board that appointed Sadiq to the slot of Ogra chief, was also questioned by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in that regard. Later, the authorities cleared her name from all alleged wrongdoing.

A career District Management Group (DMG) officer, she is considered among the most influential bureaucrats in the country. Her husband, Saleem Sethi, is also a career bureaucrat.

Several objections were raised over her promotion from Grade 21 to Grade 22. The apex court annulled the promotion, but the then prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani relaxed the rules in order to make her elevation possible.

Sethi was not available to comment on her would-be role in the new government.

Shahzad Raza is a freelance contributor. His twitter handle is @shahz79

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