LAHORE: Deadlock over the posting of a regular Punjab chief secretary between the PML-N-led federal and PTI-led Punjab governments persists for three weeks since the incumbent chief secretary had gone on leave over differences with the chief minister on administrative matters.

Chief Secretary Kamran Ali Afzal had gone on a two-week ‘protest leave’ on Sept 17 as he was not happy over issuing transfers and posting orders of deputy commissioners, commissioners and administrative secretaries under his seal – though the rules of business empower the chief minister to decided transfers and postings of such senior officers.

Besides oral requests, Mr Afzal had written a formal letter citing “personal reasons” that his services should be withdrawn from Punjab. “It is not possible for me to continue on my current assignment,” Mr Afzal had stated.

Planning and Development Board chairman Abdullah Khan Sumbal was entrusted the charge to look after the routine work of the office of the chief secretary until Sept 30. Owing to decision on the posting of a regular chief secretary, Mr Afzal’s earned leave was extended for another week and Mr Sumbal’s look after charge until Oct 7 (today).

Sources say the federal government is reluctant to post any of the three officers recommended by the Punjab government. They claim that the federal government did interview a couple of officers, other than the officers in the Punjab chief minister’s panel, for posting as Punjab chief secretary but there remained a complete silence.

Sources say the Punjab government is also asserting that the chief secretary be chosen from its panel.

The Punjab government’s panel sent to the federal government comprised Cabinet Secretary Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera (BS-22), P&D Board chairman Abdullah Khan Sumbal (BS-21) and former SMBR Babar Hayat Tarar (BS-22).

Sources claim that Mr Sukhera is not interested in taking up Punjab chief secretary’s job after serving as cabinet secretary. It is learnt that Mr Sukhera is the most senior officer in the PAS group and will be retiring from service on attaining the age of superannuation early next year. The tie is reportedly between Mr Tarar and Mr Sumbal as sources believe that at least two BS-21 officers had earlier been posted as Punjab chief secretary, who were later promoted to BS-22 while in the office.

Similarly, there is also a deadlock between the federal and Punjab governments over the transfer and posting of Capital City Police Officer (CCPO), Lahore, Ghulam Mahmood Dogar. Though Mr Dogar’s transfer orders by the Establishment Division were shared on social media on Sept 20, it could officially reach the Punjab government early last week. Instantly, the Punjab government wrote to the federal government for cancelling transfer orders as his services were required in Punjab.

Sources say the federal government has yet again written to the Punjab government to relieve Mr Dogar as there were some complaints against him. However, sources say, the Punjab government is yet again responding to the federal government asking to convey the complaints and it will process the complaint.

The establishment division had issued Mr Dogar’s transfer orders 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”.

Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi wants to retain him because he had shown courage to register cases against the PML-N federal government ministers and he had even called him at his office, hugged and applauded him.

It is learnt that the federal government is also not willingly responding to the Punjab government’s other requests too that include request for the services of officers in the province.

Published in Dawn, October 7th, 2022

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