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PM posts ‘trusted officers’ in federal bureaucracy

June 19, 2013

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Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.—File Photo
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.—File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif transferred on Tuesday over a dozen federal secretaries, assigning important positions of the cabinet and establishment divisions to the officers who in the past had worked with the Punjab government.

With the new posting and transfers, five key positions which directly report to the prime minister have gone to the officers who had worked in the Punjab government from 2008 to 2013. These include secretary to the PM Nasir Mehmood Khosa, press secretary to the PM Mohiuddin Wani, secretary of Cabinet Division Sami Saeed and secretary of Establishment Division Shahid Rashid.

Since all these officers performed well under the PML-N government in Punjab, they were the obvious choice, a senior PML-N leader said in reply to a query. Secondly, the leader argued, with the kind of challenges the new government was facing at the moment, it was a rational decision to keep tested officers, instead of trying new ones.

Before the new assignments, Mr Khosa was chief secretary of Punjab, Mr Wani secretary of information, Mr Rashid senior member, Board of Revenue and chairman, planning and development, while Mr Saeed served as secretary of education, services, health and industries in the Punjab government.

Another important transfer is of Nargis Sethi, the most trusted federal secretary of the PPP government, who has been sent to the Economic Affairs Division.

Ms Sethi had served as principal secretary to former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani for over three years. She was famously given the title of Condoleezza Rice by Mr Gilani, a reference to the powerful secretary of state during the tenure of US President George W. Bush.

INTERIOR SECRETARY: Another significant posting decided on Tuesday was that of Chaudhry Qamar Zaman as secretary of interior.

A DMG officer who had worked in the same position with the PPP government for some time, Mr Zaman’s selection to serve with Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan clearly indicates that he enjoys blessings of the PML-N government.

Mr Zaman, an inductee from the army in civil services, had served as an aide-de-camp to the late president Gen Ziaul Haq.

As most senior leaders of the PML-N know Mr Zaman from the days of Gen Zia, his posting is not a surprise, quipped a sitting federal secretary.

The Director General of Passports, Zulfiqar Cheema, who earlier was tipped as inspector general of Islamabad, has been posted as IG of Motorway Police and the NHA.

Munir Qureshi, who has worked as secretary of commerce for a long stint with the former minister for commerce, Amin Fahim, will now look after the charge of a little known ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD).

Qaiser Niaz has replaced Mr Qureshi as secretary of commerce. Mr Niaz has served in the past as commercial counsellor.

For long, one of his colleagues told Dawn, it was Mr Niaz’s desire to get this ministry as he was trained for this job.

Seerat Asghar, another DMG officer who worked as principal secretary to caretaker prime minister retired Justice Mir Hazar Khan Khoso, has been sent to the national food security and research.

Ahmed Bux Lehri, a senior DMG officer of 6th common, has been given the charge of professional training and education.

Habibullah Khattak’s new assignment is secretary, ports & shipping, which many in the civil bureaucracy believe is an odd transfer considering his long spells of service in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Arbab Shahzad, the new chief secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has served in the past as chief secretary of AJK, and in the EAD.

Considering the fragile security situation of the province, it will be a challenging assignment for Mr Shahzad. Hailing from the same province, he, however, carries good reputation among his colleagues.

Shahid Khan will be using his earlier experience as director general of Haj operations in his new assignment as secretary in the ministry of religious affairs. Rukhsana Shah, an experienced officer of the commerce and trade group from Sindh will now work as secretary in the ministry of textile.

Rukhsana Saleem has been posted as secretary of statistics, Naveed Saleemi as secretary of Federal Public Service Commission and Attaullah Toro as secretary of Federal Ombudsman.

A senior government official privy to the postings and transfers said besides their track record, a good mix of gender, cadres and representation of provinces was kept in mind.