LAHORE: The Service and General Administration Department (S&GAD) has stopped the process of promotion of the Punjab Provincial Management Service (PMS) officers, apparently after the Lahore High Court suspended the operation of a federal government notification aimed at increasing the Centre’s share in the provincial bureaucracy.

Sources among the PMS officers claim the Punjab government had conducted the Promotion Selection Board (PSB) for over 100 PMS officers, but was not issuing the board meeting’s minutes to complete the promotion process. It is learnt that some officers are on the verge of their retirement and awaiting their promotion with their fingers crossed.

When contacted, services Secretary Shehryar Sultan neither responded to a call, nor replied the text message by this reporter for his stance.

Sources, however, say the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) bureaucrats are of the view that Punjab government had surrendered 65 posts in the province as per old formula of the Inter-Provincial Coordination Committee (IPCC). They say the Punjab government

had on December 4 held the PSB against the 65 posts surrendered by the PAS, as well as other vacant posts already falling in the share of the PMS.

However, it stopped the PSB process as the LHC suspended the operation of a March 2021 federal government notification on Dec 8, 2021.

Punjab Provincial Management Service Association (PMSA) president Naveed Shahzad Mirza told Dawn that the LHC had suspended the operation of a March 2021 federal government notification intended to increase the PAS share in Punjab from 115 to 446 seats. The PMS officers in other provinces had also challenged the similar action by the federal government in the courts of their respective provinces, he added.

“The Punjab PMS had requested the provincial government that the posts over and above 446 posts should be considered for promotion, though we did not accept the enhanced quota for the PAS officers in Punjab,” Mr Mirza said.

He stated that the government accepted the request and conducted the PSB, but was not finalising the meeting’s minutes, rendering the promotion process incomplete. Now, he said, the question before the government was that how many seats should be considered for the promotion – whether the promotion should be made against the recently calculated posts or on the basis of the old formula.

Mr Mirza stated that he asked the services secretary to finalise the PSB proceedings on the basis of calculation of seats prior to the LHC order, suspending the March 2021 notification, because the board was held on Dec 4 and the LHC suspended the order on Dec 8.

The PMSA president quoted the secretary as saying that the calculation of seats for promotion of the PMS Punjab officers had reverted to the impugned IPCC formula of 1993, meaning thereby that the purportedly 65 posts surrendered by the PAS could not be considered for the PMS officers’ promotion. To do so, the PMS officers should get the notification suspension order withdrawn.

“We are looking into various possibilities to tackle the issue,” Mr Mirza said, adding that it was being considered whether the officers being affected could become a party. He said the association was also considering to move the court with the plea that the Federal Public Service Commission (FPSC) did not stop the promotion process after a similar order, but the Punjab government halted the same. Otherwise, he said, the suspension of federal government notification by the LHC would continue hitting the PMS officers in Punjab.

The PMSA president said he had constituted a high-powered committee comprising senior, mid-career and junior officers to negotiate with association’s former head Tariq Mahmood and convince him that the court’s suspension order was causing more damage to the officers than good. He said Mr Mahmood was adamant that he would not change his “principled stance”.

When contacted, Mr Mahmood said stopping the PSB process was tantamount to “blackmail” adding that the LHC’s historical order had actually increased 331 seats for the PMS officers.

Answering a question, Mr Mahmood said it was a matter of grave concern that the Punjab government was now creating a rift within the PMSA. He suggested the government should itself go into appeal against the LHC order, instead of asking the officers to withdraw the petition.

He appealed to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led Punjab government to intervene and ensure that the PMS officers should not be blackmailed and their due right to promotion not denied.

Published in Dawn, December 28th, 2021

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