Above the law?

  • New breed of politicised and amoral super-bureaucrats

They might not represent the ethos of Pakistan superior civil services as a whole, but it must be confessed that a considerable number of top level bureaucrats belonging to the ‘heaven-born’ Pakistan Administrative Service, stand politicised by generous political masters, who after long years of rule or misrule, are past masters at taming the once distant and forbidding civil administrators. A mutual ‘chemistry’ is apparently formed quite early in such officers’ careers, powerful and lucrative postings are lavished on them, protection provided when danger threatens, while political master’s duly extract their ‘pound of flesh’ through dubious and controversial bureaucratic decisions. Loyalty to the state and adherence to rules is ceded to illegalities of political bosses.

Ahad Cheema, reportedly unpopular among colleagues, with many prized postings behind him, was lawfully arrested by the National Accountability Bureau on Tuesday with an accountability court duly granting his 11 day physical remand, and was provocatively and defiantly promoted to Grade 20 on Thursday while still incarcerated. His diminished status as forced guest of the government was due to his refusal to heed NAB summons inquiring into a possible corruption case while Director General, Lahore Development Authority, a little matter of 32 kanals, valued at a mere Rs30.09 million in kickbacks allegedly received in a Rs14 billion ineligible contract awarded by him to a construction company, with close connections to an influential federal minister.

Unsurprising in itself nowadays, this arrest has stirred up quite a hornet’s nest. Rather than letting the law take its course, senior Punjab bureaucrats, after passing a resolution against Cheema’s arrest and imprisonment and meeting the Punjab CM, have gone on strike, feeling their dignity sullied by allegedly ‘humiliating’ manner of his arrest, but probably scared stiff in case the detained bureaucrat turns approver. This likely politically-patronised ‘trade unionism’ depicts the utter servility and entanglement of the uppermost bureaucracy, since the Punjab CM, as well as all-powerful Fawad Hasan Fawad were also questioned in this case. But it appears that some consider themselves ‘more equal than others’ and hence, untouchable. The present, always self-serving and nauseating system, demands an urgent and thorough overhaul.