LAHORE: The administrative ‘confusion’ in Punjab deepens further as the federal government fails to appoint new chief secretary after incumbent Kamran Ali Afzal refused to continue in office and went on a ‘protest leave’ for 14 days, which expires on Friday (today).

The Punjab had given “additional charge” to P&D Board chairman Abdullah Khan Sumbal, who is taking care of the most important administrative office in the province, but has no idea how would things turn out to be.

Assessing ‘discomfiture’ of Kamran Ali early September, the Punjab had sent a panel of three officers that the federal government refused to accept, forcing Kamran Ali Afzal to go on leave, leaving the province in an administrative limbo that continues – no new chief secretary, the incumbent refusing to continue and Punjab refusing to suggest fresh names.

In the current indecisive situation, it is learnt that Mr Afzal is expected to get his leave extended since he had `quit’ his office after getting frustrated and disheartened over “against merit” transfers and postings. Mr Afzal had made several requests to the federal government for his transfer but in vain.

Govt writes to federal authorities to cancel transfer order of CCPO Dogar

While waiting, the Punjab government was clueless till the filing of this report and believed that it would be compelled to extend the acting charge period for Mr Sumbal in the chief secretary office, if CS Mr Afzal applied to extend his leave period on Friday afternoon (today).

As CS Afzal was requesting the federal government for his transfer, the Punjab government had earlier this month sent a panel of three senior officers to the Establishment Division for the selection and posting of a regular chief secretary in the province. The chief minister office had recommended a panel of three officers comprising – Cabinet secretary Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera, P&D Board chairman Abdullah Khan Sumbal and former SMBR Babar Hayat Tarar.

The chief minister office also did not revise the panel and stuck to the three names sent to the federal government for the selection of Punjab chief secretary.

Meanwhile, the Punjab government has made the key officers of Mr Afzal’s administration OSD beginning from Additional Chief Secretary Syed Ali Murtaza, his successor Shehryar Sultan, agriculture secretary Ali Sarfraz Hussain and concluded with making law and parliamentary affairs department secretary Ahmad Raza Sarwar as OSD.

CCPO: The Punjab government has eventually received transfer orders of Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Lahore Ghulam Mahmood Dogar and instantly wrote to the federal government for cancelling orders as his services were required in Punjab.

Mr Dogar had come under the federal government’s scanner after he had allowed the Lahore police to register a case against two PML-N federal ministers Marriyum Aurangzeb and Mian Javed Latif, as well as two senior officials of state-run PTV on terrorism charges for allegedly “fanning religious hatred” against former premier Imran Khan and “endangering his life”.

As the CCPO’s transfer orders were shared on social and conventional media on Sept 20, chief minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi had come up in defence of the police official and asserted that no civil officer from the province would return to report to the federal government without formal permission from the Punjab government.

Later, Mr Dogar was also heard saying that he would not relinquish the charge and was consequently called by the chief minister and was given a pat on his back for the “courage” he had shown. The chief minister lauded the officer saying, “Well done, come and hug me”.

The fracas against the federal government started in Punjab while the transfer order had not formally received by the government. After receiving the transfer orders, sources say the Punjab government has seven days to surrender the officer or get the Establishment Division orders cancelled. The police bureaucracy is waiting for the outcome with its fingers crossed.

Published in Dawn, September 30th, 2022

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