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ISLAMABAD: Announcing a mass contact campaign from March 4, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has decided to oppose appointment of the protesting officers of the Pakistan Administrative Services (PAS), formerly District Management Group (DMG), from Punjab in the caretaker setup and during the elections.

Talking to Dawn after a meeting presided over by PTI chairman Imran Khan on Sunday, party’s information secretary Fawad Chaudhry said they would not accept in the next caretaker setup those officers from the Punjab bureaucracy who were currently protesting against the arrest of Lahore Development Authority’s former director general Ahad Cheema.

The PTI office-bearer said the party had decided to write a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in this regard. He said the PTI would also ask the ECP not to give any responsibility to these officers during the upcoming general elections.

Mr Chaudhry alleged that the protesting officers had violated their oath under which they were required to perform their duties in a professional manner while remaining impartial.

Party to launch mass contact drive in Karachi on March 4

“The protesting bureaucracy of Punjab has become a personal servant of Raiwind,” he said in his apparent reference to the residence of the Sharif brothers.

“The PML-N’s DMG wing will not be acceptable to the party anywhere in the country during the elections,” he declared, a day after Imran Khan at a news conference alleged that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz had assigned the task of selecting its candidates for the next general elections to the Intelligence Bureau (IB) through its “hand-picked” director general Aftab Sultan.

The PTI chief had also accused former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his brother Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif of using bureaucrats in the centre and the province as their “front men” and to protect their alleged corruption.

The arrest of Mr Cheema, a grade 20 officer of the Public Administration Service (PAS), by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had reportedly drawn sharp protest from certain quarters in the provincial bureaucracy and many senior PML-N leaders, including National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq.

Briefing about the decisions taken at the party meeting, Mr Chaudhry said the PTI would start a 35-day mass contact campaign with a visit of Imran Khan to the three districts of Karachi on March 4, and it would culminate in Lahore. Responding to a question, he said that Balochistan had not been included in the programme for the moment, and it would be included in the second phase of the campaign.

He said the PTI chief was considering the option of contesting a National Assembly seat from Karachi in the next elections and during his visit to the city he would also try to choose the constituency.

In the meeting, he said, the party leaders had decided to speed up its ongoing campaign against corruption in Punjab.

Mr Chaudhry said the PTI had serious concerns over the missing of Faisal Subhan, the chief executive officer of a construction company who had allegedly been found involved in corruption by the Chinese regulatory authority. He said the party had concerns about the safety of Faisal Subhan and they would even approach the Supreme Court for his recovery.

He said Imran Khan had already demanded a thorough investigation into the alleged corruption in mega projects, including Metro Bus projects, launched by the PML-N government, particularly in Punjab.

Meanwhile, Imran Khan on his official page on Twitter has written that “It is unacceptable that such mega public money projects remain covert and evade all transparency and accountability.”

“After his confession, Subhan has disappeared and we demand an inquiry into his disappearance. Also, since the senior PAS bureaucracy is compromised, the SC must now ensure that contracts for all the Punjab and federal Metro projects plus Orange Train be made public,” he writes.

“Shahbaz Sharif’s Panama moment has come as Faisal Subhan, CEO of Shell Co, Capital Construction, confessed to Chinese regulatory authority investigating corruption in Multan Metro project that Shahbaz Sharif and family were paid hefty kickbacks in their overseas accounts from this project,” Mr Khan said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party secretary general Nayyar Bokhari in a statement said the Punjab government had been exposed by the reaction of bureaucracy on the arrest of Ahad Cheema.

He said it was ironic that the Punjab chief secretary visited the residence of Ahad Cheema as special representative of Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif.

“It raises several questions. It also shows that the chief minister is trying to influence investigation against Ahad Cheema through bureaucracy,” Mr Bokhari alleged.

Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2018