Ex-bureaucrats recommend removal of corrupt officials

The Nation

the civil establishment to mend its ways or be ready to face the consequences.
After posting of Yousuf Naseem Khokhar as Punjab bureaucracy chief, transfers of officers, both civil and police, are said to be a well-played game. Khokhar had done a lot of homework before making his team. He had also consulted Punjab Police IG Amjad Javed Saleemi on transfers of senior police officers, sources said.
However, some senior officers are of the view that only transfers would not do. Without applying dictators’ formula of removing the corrupt officers from key positions, the PTI bigwigs would continue to complain that officers don’t cooperate with the government.
Taking a tough step, former prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had removed about 1,300 civil servants to tone up rest of the administration. He had removed officers from the premier groups, including CSPs and Foreign Service. He had removed constitutional protection to civil servants and weakened the most privileged and powerful class of the country.
Earlier, dictators General Ayub Khan and General Yahya Khan had played the same trick. Later, the provinces had followed the suit and compulsorily retired officers, including 280 from Punjab. One of the reasons the Bhutto government cited for taking this stern action was corrupt practices. Since the officers had been living beyond known means of income and had lost credibility, they were removed from service, said the then government representative.
A federal secretary on condition of anonymity said that PM Khan did what even dictators could not do. He implemented the ten-year serving tenure policy in the provinces. Officers who had been working in the same province for over ten years were either transferred to other provinces or repatriated to Islamabad.
The PTI government has constituted a high-level civil service reform committee as Bhutto did. Bhutto had by dropping bigwigs of the bureaucracy paved the way for political influence. The PTI government though time and again had claimed no political interference but transfers of IGPs Muhammad Tahir in Punjab and Jan Muhammad in Islamabad and resignation of adviser on police reforms Nasir Durrani tell a different tale. Transfers of DPO of Sahiwal and two DCs’ letters to the ECP also add fuel to fire.
During the PML-N government, a move was started by some parliamentarians in Punjab to get executive powers. But, on the strict opposition from the then bureaucracy, the campaign was withdrawn. It is said that the then government politically influenced the bureaucracy.
On the other hand, CM Sardar Usman Buzdar had said on the assembly floor that every MPA would be the chief minister of his constituency. This reflects a different picture. The federal government’s policy that parliamentarians would monitor development schemes in their areas strengthened the theory of political interference.
A former services secretary said on condition of anonymity said the pick and choose policy of the incumbent government had damaged the hardworking group in the bureaucracy. “Posting of officers wanted by NAB or anti-corruption has further damaged claims of transparency. The PML-N government had been blamed for posting junior officers to key positions; the PIT government has posted superseded officers. Senior officer Tahir Khurshid was posted DG Khan Commissioner while Amna Imran as LDA DG. Meanwhile, officer Irum Bokhari was in line to get a good posting. The practice of accommodating such officers would discourage the competent and hardworking officers who miss lucrative positions.
He criticized the posting of officers who were surrendered by Punjab because they were highly politicized. Former Planning and Development Department Chairman Jehanzeb Khan was appointed FBR chairman. Khan has been at the helm of affairs in energy, transport and development projects. Former Punjab Additional Home Secretary Azam Suleman had been elevated as federal secretary for interior, a powerful slot in the country. Suleman was the home secretary when Model Town massacre took place. Former services secretary Dr Ejaz Munir, who enjoyed lucrative positions during the last government, has been picked and posted as Establishment Division Secretary by the PTI government.
Another senior officer awaiting posting in the federal government said that on the one hand premier Imran Khan addressed the federal bureaucracy and assured that there would be least political interference, on the other hand, he is beating the drum about the whistleblowers law. He said that officers avoid getting posting in departments that deal with huge purchases and developments like health, communication and works, public health engineering, etc.
Talking about Principal Secretary Azam Khan, the officer said, he lacked enough experience to handle the Punjab bureaucracy. A good number of the PTI government moves initiated from Islamabad regarding Punjab top bureaucracy failed to generate results. A good number of officers who had a ‘say’ during the previous government succeeded in getting key positions while those who had been ignored are either sidelined or given less important seats by the PTI government, he said. He said that without punishing and removing corrupt elements from bureaucracy the PTI manifesto to generate millions of jobs, plant billions of trees, construct five million houses, bring reforms in civil services, revamp local bodies system, establish south Punjab and reform criminal justice system would be just a dream immaterialized. He recommended removal of all those who had allegedly been involved in corruption like former LDA DG Ahad Cheema, former principal secretary Fawad Hasan Fawad, and others involved in Nandi Pur scam, small dams case, setting fire to public records, Quaid e Azam Solar Power scam, Orange Line underhand deal etc. The efficient expect from the PTI chief and premier Khan to give them protection which was earlier removed by Bhutto.

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