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ISLAMABAD: The High Powered Selection Board (HPSB) headed by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has dropped the names of several influential bureaucrats, including the principal secretary to the prime minister, for promotions to grade 22.

On Oct 5, the board approved the promotions of 35 officers from various cadres from grade 21 to 22.

Although an official notification regarding the promotions has not yet been issued, a senior Establishment Division official confirmed that the HPSB had dropped most influential bureaucrats, including principal secretary Fawad Hassan Fawad, for promotions to grade 22.

Promotions of 35 officers from grade 21 to 22 were approved by board on Thursday

The senior bureaucracy was not only upset that Mr Fawad and his batch mates were allegedly given special treatment when it came to posting and transfers, but also that the powerful 15th common was holding acting charge of various ministries.

The 15th common is the batch to which Mr Fawad belongs, and includes acting Petroleum and Natural Resources Secretary Jalal Sikandar Sultan, acting Establishment Division Secretary Mian Asad Hayauddin, acting Federal Education Secretary Shoaib Mir Memon and National Security Division Secretary Amin Ashraf Khawaja.

However, after the sudden promotions of the 12th, 13th and 14th commons, the heads of at least eight ministries and divisions would be changed, since the high-level position of federal secretary would be allotted to promoted officers.

Of the 11 Pakistan Administrative Service officers promoted by the HPSB, eight were selected from 30 officers from the 12th, 13th and 14th commons. They include Furqan Bahadur, Shaista Sohail, Sohail Altaf, Irfan Ali, Naveed Kamran Baloch, Arif Ilah, retired Capt Jahanzeb and Rizwan Memon.

Officers from the 15th common promoted to grade 22 include Maroof Afzal, Amir Ashraf Khawaja and Mian Mohammad Mushtaq.

Promoted officers from the Police Service of Pakistan are retired Capt Usman, Sardar Abdul Majeed, Ayub Qureshi, Amjad Javed Saleemi and Asif Nawaz. Inspector General of Sindh Police Allah Dino Khawaja was also included in the list of officers to be promoted to grade 22, however his name was not considered while his seniors were promoted.

Sarwat Tahira and Sumera Nazir from Custom, Kh Tanveer and Raana Ahmed from the Postal Service, Karamat Bokhari and Sharifullah Wazir from Audit and Accounts, and Asghar Chaudhry, Imran Zeb, Omer Hamid and Hashim Popalzai from the Secretariat Group have also been promoted.

The HPSB deferred the list of officers from the information group. Three grade 21 officers from the group – Rao Tehseen Ali, Sheraz Latif and Shafqat Jalil – were in the queue for grade 22.

The Establishment Division official claimed that Mr Abbasi promoted the grade 21 officers purely on merit, which was evident by the fact that his own secretary, Mr Fawad, was not promoted.

Mr Fawad has been criticised by the bureaucracy since 2015, when the Establishment Division introduced a promotion criteria that gave the Central Selection Board veto power on the basis of five marks attributed to the integrity of civil servants. Scores of officers senior to Mr Fawad could not be promoted under the criteria, and subsequently officers from the 15th common came out on top.

Last year, the Supreme Court set aside the new criteria and directed the Establishment Division to reconsider the 2015 promotions, resulting in senior officers from the 12th, 13th and 14th commons gaining their seniority once again.

Mr Fawad was 44th on the seniority list issued by the Establishment Division. However, sources said that since the HPSB superseded about 23 officers from the 12th, 13th and 14th commons, Mr Fawad would be among the senior-most and most favoured officers in the upcoming HPSB.

According to sources, some grade 22 officers will retire by the end of the year, creating sufficient space to accommodate Mr Fawad and his batch mates in the next HPSB.

Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2017