ISLAMABAD: He was seen as the worst thing to have happened to Pakistan but Prime Minister Pervez Ashraf has proved that Yusuf Raza Gilani was the most awful. While the Presidency continues to be the power centre in the present dispensation, the incumbent Prime Minister has surprised his critics through some of his administrative actions.
Yet far from doing what is really needed to check poor governance and corruption that scaled new heights during Gilani’s tenure, Pervez Ashraf has strictly implemented merit-based inter-provincial transfer policy with regard to Balochistan besides replacing top bosses of the otherwise highly corrupt Capital Development Authority (CDA) with reputed officers.
Merit had become irrelevant during the last four and half years and nepotism had been at its best under Gilani, however Pervez Ashraf did remarkably well at least while dealing with the transfer of required DMG and PSP officers to Balochistan on the basis of a policy agreed upon by all the provinces and approved by the premier.
It was the apex court that had directed the Gilani administration to overcome the shortage of DMG and PSP officers in Balochistan by transferring competent officers posted in other provinces.
But Gilani instead of doing it for the betterment of Balochistan abusively misused the apex court’s direction to punish the officers disliked by the PPP and the influential having association with the prime minister.
In the name of Supreme Court’s direction but without following any merit, principle or rule the former prime minister had resorted to the policy of pick and choose and had ordered the transfer of officers like DCO and CPO Rawalpindi, and DPO Sargodha merely because these officers had refused to dance to the tunes of Gilani’s favourites.
After Gilani left unceremoniously as a convict, the chief secretary Punjab approached the federal government for the formation of an inter-provincial policy regarding Balochistan. The federal government under Pervez Ashraf welcomed the CS Punjab initiative and facilitated a meeting of centre and all provinces for the formulation of the policy.
The prime minister approved the policy, which envisaged that in the first phase the PSP and DMG officers, who had Balochistan domicile but had never served the province, would be posted in Balochistan.
In the second phase DMG and PSP officers with Balochistan domicile, who are serving in the other province for more than last three years would be posted back to their own province. In the third phase, the policy said that the DMG and PSP officers who had never served outside the province of their domicile (except Balochistan) would be posted to Balochistan.
Sources in the federal bureaucracy and in Punjab, where the anti-PPP party PML-N rules, are in unison to say that so far Pervez Ashraf has strictly followed the policy and did not allow any deviation.
These sources said that those officers whose transfer orders have been issued include some highly influential bureaucrats.
However, to the bad luck of the people of Balochistan the political leadership of the province (chief minister and the provincial government) has not offered suitable postings to these officers.
Another administrative decision of Pervez Ashraf, which surprised many, is the appointment of reputed officers as chairman and member CDA. The appointment of Tahir Shahbaz as chairman CDA and members like Shaista Suhail, Kazim Niaz, Munir Ahmad and Azhar Ali Chaudhry is generally acclaimed by the civilian bureaucracy because of the reputation of these officers.
The new top appointments in the CDA are not only a test for the prime minister himself but for all these officers too as corruption, inefficiency and bad governance are deeply rooted in the authority and require major overhaul.
Reports have been making the rounds in the federal capital about some objectionable activities of the Prime Minister’s brothers, one of whom wanted his tainted friend appointed as deputy commissioner Islamabad. However the latest appointments in the CDA and the non-issuance of the posting order of “tainted” officer as DC Islamabad seems to be a snub to the PM’s close relatives.
To Gilani’s disappointment, secretary cabinet Nargis Sethi has played a key role in bringing reputed officers in the CDA. Sethi has been Gilani’s principal secretary but Gilani seemed to have never acted on her advice.
Within a few weeks of his appointment, Pervez Ashraf formally issued a direction that no government officer should get exploited by any of his relatives.
But Ashraf has yet to post out from the Prime Minister’s Secretariat his own son-in-law Raja Azeem, who has seen unprecedented elevations in recent years and is presently serving as de facto principal secretary to the prime minister. The incumbent principal secretary is considered spineless whereas an honest and hardworking secretary establishment is required to depoliticise the civilian bureaucracy.