MULTAN: Despite the provincial cabinet’s nod to the amended Punjab Government Rules of Business, 2011, aimed at empowerment and independence of the South Punjab Secretariat, instead of the south additional chief secretary (ACS), the ACS Punjab is issuing the transfer and posting orders of the assistant commissioners/section officers and the other BS-17 officers working on encadre posts in south, Dawn has learnt.

As many as eight out of the 25 ACs/sections officers (SOs) and others posted against BS-17 ex-cadre posts in south Punjab have been transferred on Sept 27 by Punjab ACS Syed Ali Murtaza, apparently in violation of the recently-approved minutes of the cabinet meeting.

Those who were posted in south Punjab and transferred include Mailsi AC Abdul Razzaque Ali Dogar, Housing, Urban Development and Public Health Engineering SO Ghulam Mustafa, Burewala AC Muhammad Umar Farooq, Ahmadpur East AC Syed Usman Hassan, Bahawalpur Headquarters AC Zahoor Ahmad Awan, Multan (City) Sub-Registrar Syed Jamil Haidar Shah, HR/Coordination AC Muhammad Zafar and Multan (Cantt) Sub-Registrar Muhammad Kamran Afzal.

The cabinet meeting was held on August 31 and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, while addressing a press conference later, termed the approval a “historic step” towards solving problems of the people of south Punjab.

As per the meeting’s minutes, “mutual consultation between the additional chief secretary and Services & General Administration Department (S&GAD) and ACS South Punjab shall be mandatory for posting of any officer working as AC/section officer or any BS-17 encadred [officer] in south Punjab.”

However, when the notification in this regard was issued on September 14 by the Punjab governor, there was no mentioning of the powers of the south Punjab ACS.

Sources said a group of powerful bureaucrats was creating hurdles in the government’s efforts to make the South Punjab Secretariat empowered and independent.

They said the same group was behind the withdrawal of the notification of Sept 11, 2020, on March 29 through which the south Punjab ACS was given all the powers of the chief secretary given under the laws, rules, notifications and standing orders of the government (unless notified or directed otherwise by the chief secretary), except the power under clause (b) of the rule 9, according to which the chief secretary will also be the cabinet secretary.

The sources said that over the withdrawal of the notification the then Implementation and Coordination (I&C) secretary Mukhtar Masood was made a scapegoat and was made an officer on special duty (OSD) despite the fact that he had nothing to do with the matter.

Additional Secretary I&C (South) Rana Rizwan Qadeer confirmed that the south Punjab ACS’ powers to issue the transfer and posting orders of the officers concerned were yet to be notified.

“As and when (the powers are) notified, no transfer/posting of BS-17 [officer] shall be notified within south Punjab by the S&GAD Lahore,” he added.

Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2021

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