LAHORE: In another move apparently aimed at undermining the independence of south Punjab secretariat (based in Multan and Bahawalpur), the provincial government on Tuesday assigned eight provincial secretaries with additional charge of their respective departments in the southern region.

The government has placed the administrative charge of south Punjab under the purview of the Lahore-based civil secretaries.

The notification detailed the assignment of additional charges to various officials, including retired Lt Sohail Ashraf and retired Capt Asadullah Khan, who will now oversee the Communication and Works Department and the Housing Urban Development and Public Health Engineering Department, respectively, for both regions.

Similarly, Ali Jan Khan, Farrukh Naveed, Mujahid Sherdil, Shakeel Ahmad Mian, Asif Bilal Lodhi, and retired Capt Noorul Amin Mengal have been given dual responsibilities of departments like Primary & Secondary Healthcare, Higher Education, Finance, Local Government & Community Development, Law & Parliamentary Affairs, and the Home departments.

Many other officials reshuffled

Additionally, Muhammad Zahid Ikram and Rana Saleem Ahmad Khan have been appointed as special secretaries for the C&W and the Housing, Urban Development & Public Health Engineering (HUD&PHE) departments in South Punjab, respectively.

Mansoor Ahmad and Rashid Irshad have also been assigned additional charges in the Specialized Healthcare & Medical Education (SH&ME) and the Primary & Secondary Healthcare (P&SH) Departments for south Punjab.

Meanwhile, Dr Noorul Ain Fatima is posted as additional secretary of Home Department. Schools Education Department (SED) south Punjab Deputy Secretary Malik Ahmad Faraz Awan is transferred and posted as additional deputy commissioner (ADC-revenue), Pakpattan, vice Rana Muhammad Umar who is posted as ADC-revenue, Chiniot, vice Mr Altaf Hussain Ansari, who is transferred and posted as deputy secretary, SED, against a vacant post.

Ms Naeem Afzal, who was awaiting posting, is promoted to BS-18 and posted as deputy secretary, Women Development Department. Muhammad Akbar is posted as deputy secretary (Archives), Services & General Administration Department (S&GAD), relieving Mr Muhammad Atif, Section Officer (Archives), S&GAD, of additional charge of the post.

Chakwal ADC (General) Bilal Bin Abdul Hafeez has been transferred and directed to report to S&GAD, while Narowal ADC (Revenue) Azeem Shaukat is transferred and posted as Deputy Secretary (Admn.), Human Rights and Minorities Affairs Department, Punjab.

Deputy Secretary (IPC), I&C Wing of S&GAD, Ahmad Haroon is transferred and posted as ADC (Revenue), Narowal.

Board of Revenue (BoR) Member (Consolidation) Malik Abdul Waheed is transferred and posted as Member (Colonies), BoR, Punjab, and Rashid Kamal-ur-Rehman has been posted as Member (Consolidation).

Earlier, the Punjab government had created 10 new posts of special secretaries for south Punjab to reverse the decentralisation of administrative powers, which was done through allowing autonomous status to south Punjab secretariat by the last PTI government.

This restructuring (creation of new posts and the assignment of additional charges to Lahore-based secretaries) is being viewed as a move aimed at practically abolishing the south Punjab secretariat, which was initially established to address the developmental disparities between south and central Punjab.official sources say the move is causing disillusionment among the staff of the south Punjab secretariat, especially since their special relocation allowance for the last year has not been disbursed.

The critics argue that it could render the south secretariat toothless, undermining its autonomy and decision-making powers, which were meant to facilitate the people of south Punjab.

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2024

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