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ISLAMABAD: Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law retired Captain Mohammad Safdar on Friday alleged that the prime minister’s personal secretary was calling the shots in matters relating to promotion of senior bureaucrats and called for an end to the practice.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in the National Assembly supported the MNA’s views and expressed lack of confidence in the Prime Minister Office. They said that issues like promotion of bureaucrats should be dealt with by parliament and not by an individual.

The MNAs termed the bureaucracy “an unbridled horse” and said it paid no heed to the complaints lodged by the parliamentarians regarding their constituencies.

In a call-attention notice, retired Capt Safdar criticised the PM Office and particularly the prime minister’s personal secretary, Fawad Hassan Fawad.

According to him, Mr Fawad is taking decisions about promotion of government officers of grade 20 and above on the basis of his own liking. “An individual is calling the shots and making promotions on the basis of his own desires,” he said.

Analysis: Promotion dilemma of bureaucracy

Mr Sharif’s son-in-law suggested that a parliamentary committee should be formed to deal with promotion of officers of grade 20 and above. He said the decisions should be taken on the basis of the officers’ performance and track record.

“The elected representatives can take better decisions about promotion of civil servants on the basis of their past performance because they serve in our constituencies as assistant commissioners and deputy commissioners,” he said.

All federal secretaries should attend sessions of the two houses of parliament so that they could learn about the people’s problems, he said. “For God’s sake, make this mandatory for them as they have to run the government.”

Recalling the services of former secretary Saeed Mehdi, the MNA said he could not find a serving officer who was as capable as Mr Mehdi. “I say Fawad Hassan Fawad should sit in this house so that he could learn about the problems of the people,” he said.

Capt Safdar was of the opinion that most elected representatives knew about the activities of the bureaucrats. “We know that most of the bureaucrats run their private offices in the evening and how they invest in the real estate sector,” he said.

He asked Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi, who was conducting proceedings of the house in the absence of Speaker Ayaz Sadiq, to form a parliamentary committee to deal with promotion of senior civil servants.

Abbas Siyal endorsed Mr Safdar’s point of view and said the right of promoting officers “had been snatched” by the premier’s personal secretary, who was making the decisions according to his own desires.

“We frequently visit offices of the officials concerned in search of solution of people’s problems but they ignore us and even do not attend our telephone calls,” he added.

Some other MNAs, including Ayaz Soomro and Naveed Qamar of the Pakistan Peoples Party, supported Mr Safdar’s views and called for amendments to the relevant law.

Deputy Speaker Abbasi said the procedure for promotion of top officials had already been laid down and the decisions regarding promotion of officers of grade 20 and above fell in the domain of the prime minister. “As far as I know, the parliamentarians have been included in the promotion broad,” he said.

Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Sheikh Aftab Ahmed agreed that legislators faced numerous problems in their efforts to solve the people’s problems, but suggested that lawmakers were responsible for the existing state of affairs as well.

“These bureaucrats work under relevant federal ministers who are part and parcel of parliament,” he said.

Mr Ahmed, however, said a committee comprising legislators could be formed for deciding on promotion of top officials.

He said he had already written to all the federal secretaries about the need for them to attend parliamentary sessions.

Published in Dawn November 19th, 2016