PM’s principal secretary part of board considering promotions, including his own

Published March 17, 2019
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses civil servants at PM Office.— Photo courtesy of Radio Pakistan
Prime Minister Imran Khan addresses civil servants at PM Office.— Photo courtesy of Radio Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The High Powered Selection Board (HPSB) will meet next week to consider promotion of bureaucrats to grade 22 with one of the board members having a say in his own elevation case.

Headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan, the board comprises his principal secretary Azam Khan who himself is a grade 21 officer and happens to be on the list of those due to be considered for promotion.

This will be the second such occasion in the county’s bureaucratic history after Fawad Hasan Fawad, principal secretary to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, that someone is part of the board who will consider his own promotion.

According to Cabinet Secretariat/Establishment Division documents, available with Dawn, the HPSB was scheduled to meet in March and September this year.

High Powered Selection Board will take up promotion of bureaucrats to grade 22 next week

A bureaucrat, who requested not to be quoted, said the selection board was chaired by the prime minister and had three permanent members – the principal secretary to the prime minister and the cabinet and establishment secretaries.

“The fourth member is co-opted from the group of which promotion cases are discussed. For example, the health secretary will be the fourth member if cases from his ministry are to be discussed. However, the HPSB chairman can nominate anyone as a member,” he said.

“According to the general practice, the senior-most bureaucrat in Basic Pay Scale (BPS) 22 is appointed as the personal secretary to the prime minister. In the past, Saeed Mehdi and Dr Usman Ali G. Isani, BPS 22 officers, served as principal secretaries. However, Mr Sharif appointed Fawad Hasan Fawad as the principal secretary, ignoring the fact that he was in BPS 21.

Mr Fawad was a member of HPSB when his own promotion was discussed. He left the meeting room when his case was taken up. Now once again a similar situation has arisen,” he said.

A retired bureaucrat, requesting not to be quoted, said it was not appropriate for a person to be a member of the board where his own promotion has to be discussed.

However, a sitting bureaucrat said there was nothing wrong in it.

“If a person becomes a member by default, they should not refuse to become part of the board. However, members should ensure that they would not violate merit,” he said.

When contacted, Supreme Court lawyer Riasat Ali Azad told Dawn that it was unethical and illegal.

“Whenever a reference is filed against a judge in the Supreme Judicial Council, he does not become part of the bench.Moreover, even if someone raises an objection over the judge’s impartiality, the judge quits the bench,” he said.

“The bureaucrat may go outside the meeting room at the time of consideration of his case but the other members will not forget that their colleague was sitting beside them and has just left. Such a bureaucrat should not be part of the committee,” he maintained.

Despite repeated attempts, Azam Khan could not be contacted.

Adviser to Prime Minister on Establishment Mohammad Shahzad Arbab confirmed to Dawn that Mr Khan’s case was going to be considered at the upcoming High Powered Selection Board meeting.

“He will leave the meeting when his case would be discussed. There is nothing wrong in it as he will not be part of the committee at that time. Moreover, bureaucrats are promoted after considering their files,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2019

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