Punjab govt at its wits’ end regarding chief secretary’s matter

Published August 19, 2022
<p>Punjab Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal — Photo courtesy EPZA website</p>

Punjab Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal — Photo courtesy EPZA website

LAHORE: Getting rid of Punjab Chief Secretary (CS) Kamran Ali Afzal seems to have become an uphill task for the incumbent Punjab government.

“Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi has desired that one of the officers – Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera (BS-22), Abdullah Khan Sumbal (BS-21) and Babar Hayat Tarar (BS-22) – may be considered for the posting of the Punjab chief secretary in order of priority,” the CM’s principal secretary Muhammad Khan Bhatti wrote to the secretary Establishment Division whose copy was also forwarded to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

The CM reportedly shortlisted the panel of three candidates for the CS’s post after consultations with Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan.

An official source told Dawn on Thursday that the federal government did not oblige the Punjab government, citing that it could not allow transfers and postings as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had already announced the by-polls schedule in the province.

Federal govt refuses to transfer Afzal, citing ECP rules

The Shehbaz government is reportedly unwilling to oblige CM Elahi by appointing his nominee against the chief secretary’s slot. In spite of being appointed by Imran Khan’s federal government, Kamran Ali Afzal as head of Punjab’s civil bureaucracy was retained by the PML-N government and he had shown a tilt towards it when it gained support of 25 PTI turncoats, hoping to form the government in Punjab.

The then Punjab Inspector General of Police Rao Sardar Ali Khan had made a quiet exit as he had himself requested the federal government for his transfer from the province soon after the PTI won 15 seats in the July by-election in Punjab, inflicting a crushing defeat on the party of the Sharifs. He was transferred on July 22.

In order to facilitate the PML-N leadership, the top civil bureaucrats, including the CS, IGP, ACS (Home), Lahore commissioner and deputy commissioner, had got the Punjab Assembly cordoned off on April 16 during the election of the chief minister and sent police on the floor of the provincial house in an unprecedented move. Both the PTI and PML-Q had boycotted the voting for the election of the chief minister and subsequently Hamza Shahbaz became the chief minister.

The very next day (on April 17), the Governor House was cordoned off and even the then governor Umer Sarfraz Cheema was not allowed to enter the premises to facilitate the administration of oath to Hamza as CM by National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf.

Parvez Elahi had vowed not to spare CS Afzal and IGP Rao Sardar for becoming more loyal than the king. Both the officers; however, have managed to save their skin so far with the ‘blessing of the PML-N top leadership’.

Ousted premier Imran Khan was so annoyed with them (Sardar and Afzal) that he had openly warned them that their ‘names had been noted’ and that they would be taken to task.

Mr Elahi after becoming the CM completely bypassed CS Afzal in postings and transfers of bureaucrats in the province after which he (Afzal) requested the federal government to withdraw his services from the province.

In his letter to the Secretary Establishment, CS Afzal had said: “I am writing to convey that owing to personal reasons, it is not possible for me to continue on my current assignment”.

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2022

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