LAHORE: Massive administrative reshuffle in Punjab on Wednesday drew a sharp reaction from within the bureaucracy and the caretaker set-up stating that surrendering trained human resource might cause more problems than serving the purpose of impartiality in holding the next general elections.

There was a sharp reaction that many a neutral officer were proposed to be transferred along with those known for politically aligned with the former Shahbaz Sharif-led PML-N government in Punjab.

The Punjab government had sent lists of bureaucrats and police officers serving in the province suggesting some of them surrendering to the federal government and others reshuffled within Punjab. While, the Election Commission of Pakistan has given its consent to proposed transfers and postings in Punjab, the provincial government did not notify till late in the night.

They say many an apolitical one could have been spared

Reacting to the proposed reshuffling in Punjab, a former bureaucrat said the mass exodus would be detrimental to working of the caretaker government. Asserting that the bureaucrats should essentially be neutral, he said those found to be aligned politically should be charge-sheeted instead of just surrendering to the federal government.

Another bureaucrat said the caretaker government should have researched on those close to the Shahbaz Sharif and PML-N and kept the non-aligned bureaucrats and police officers for the smooth functioning of the government. “Even the posting of new Chief Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani and Inspector General of Police Kaleem Imam may put immense pressure on them to understand the working and workforce in Punjab to ensure holding elections in a free and fair manner.”

An interesting situation developed after the [proposed] reshuffle as a caretaker minister had to cancel his meetings with his departments’ officials because the administrative secretaries were among the lists recommended for transfer.

It may be mentioned that former secretary to chief minister Imdadullah Bosal has already gone on leave, while former secretary implementation at chief minister’s office Ahmad Javed Qazi was earlier transferred and made OSD. He is now being surrendered to the federal government.

Former secretary (coordination) to chief minister Nadeem Aslam Chaudhry has been transferred and being posted as Commissioner Rawalpindi Division. Former additional secretary chief minister’s office Zahid Saleem Gondal has been transferred and is being posted as Director General Archaeology. Former personal staff officer (PSO) to chief minister Umer Chatha was already transferred and posted as Deputy Secretary Cabinet in Punjab.

Former secretary information and culture Raja Jahangir Anwar, a PMS officer, was already transferred and posted as additional secretary finance.

The senior bureaucrats, who were considered close to former chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, and being surrendered to the federal government are: Planning and Development Board chairman Jehanzeb Khan, additional chief secretary (communication and works) Mushtaq Ahmad, additional chief secretary (S&GAD) Omer Rasul, senior member Board of Revenue Aslam Kamboh, secretary (services) S&GAD Farhan Aziz Khwaja and others.

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2018