PESHAWAR: Bureaucrats threatened a pen-down strike across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on Wednesday accusing information minister Feroze Jamal Shah Kakakhel of overstepping his powers by trying to occupy the office of additional secretary of the department Arshad Khan.

The minister claimed that he visited the secretary’s office and wanted to sit on his chair but the latter didn’t allow that prompting him to step out and go to the office of the director-general (public relations).

“I held the same chair during an earlier visit to the office,” he told Dawn.

Mr Kakakhel alleged that the province’s bureaucracy had a tilt to the former ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).

Minister Kakakhel claims secy denying him record of official cars

Official sources claimed that the DG was away but still, the minister occupied his chair.

The minister said he had sought details of official vehicles used by officers of his department, but the records weren’t shared.

“I want to see how many official vehicles are used by the families of these bureaucrats, but the secretary is reluctant to respond to my repeated queries,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Management Services resented the minister’s “unbecoming” conduct towards bureaucracy and asked the chief minister to act against him to prevent a pen-down strike by government officials.

In a letter to Chief Minister Mohammad Azam Khan, the association of the provincial management services said the information minister had overstepped his powers.

“The information minister transgressed his jurisdiction by insisting that he would occupy the chair of the secretary. He even threatened the secretary with a news conference against him,” read the letter.

The PAS said the minister’s conduct was extremely unprofessional and that many members of the government had sought official vehicles used by the secretaries for themselves in violation of rules and regulations.

“Some departments are being pressured to take policy decisions, which is the mandate of the elected government only,” it said in the letter.

The association said the Constitution and Elections Act 2017 declared that the mandate of caretakers was just to hold free and fair elections and not to take policy decisions.

It warned that if the chief minister didn’t address the issue immediately, it could announce a pen-down strike across the province.

Later in the day, minister Kakakhel told a presser that the government departments would be cleared of all political appointees and the caretaker government had the constitutional mandate to do so.

He said he would move a summary to the chief minister for terminating the services of social media influencers recruited by the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf.

The minister accused the bureaucracy of creating hurdles for caretakers to perform their duties.

He said a proforma was sent to the information secretary to share details of official vehicles used by bureaucrats but such records were still awaited.

About stampedes in flour distribution centres, the minister said the government was increasing the number of such points while expanding the coverage of the initiative to village council level.

He said officials of the district administration were told to ensure presence at flour distribution points.

“We have given away around 7.7 million flour bags to 22 per cent of the targeted population,” he said, adding that a committee has been formed comprising administrative secretaries to ensure trouble-free exercise.

The minister said there were no plans to call or deploy Frontier Constabulary personnel at those points.

He said the caretaker government would terminate the services of all political appointees to departments.

“We have the mandate to assist the Election Commission of Pakistan for holding free, fair and transparent elections,” he said.

Recently, Mr Kakakhel had claimed that it was not possible to hold a fair election to the provincial assembly as there’s a “100 per cent” tilt to former prime minister Imran Khan’s party, PTI, in the entire local bureaucracy.

“We [caretakers] have taken an oath to hold free and fair [PA] elections but we won’t be able to do so due to the partiality of the current bureaucratic set-up towards the former ruling party PTI. Bureaucracy is creating hurdles for us and even the chief secretary seems to be helpless to act against it,” Mr Kakakhel told reporters on March 18.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2023



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