Sheikh Rasheed’s ‘ignorance’ led to spat with top railway officials | Pakistan Today

Sheikh Rasheed’s ‘ignorance’ led to spat with top railway officials

LAHORE: A day after the application of a Pakistan Railways official seeking a two-year-long paid leave broke the internet, Pakistan Today has learnt that the incident occurred after the minister reprimanded the senior bureaucrat while failing to understand the latter’s responsibilities.

On Sunday, an application by Railways Chief Commercial Manager (CCM) Muhammad Hanif Gul started making rounds on the mainstream and social media, in which the senior official had sought a 730 days long leave citing new Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad’s “indecorous attitude” as the reason.

“The attitude of the new minister is extremely non-professional and ill-mannered. As an honourable member of the Civil Services of Pakistan, it is not possible for me to continue to work under him,” the bureaucrat had stated.

On Monday, sources informed Pakistan Today that the application addressed to the Ministry of Railways was only an episode of the week-long series in which not just Hanif, but several other officials of the department had also expressed concerns over the new minister’s attitude.

“Hanif, as well as a majority of other Railways officials, were optimistic about the newly-elected Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s 100-day agenda; however, things went down the moment the CCM had to give Sheikh Rasheed a briefing of the ministry’s affairs last week,” sources said, adding that the minister was unaware of the difference between the responsibilities of chief commercial and marketing managers.

“The minister questioning the senior official about things that were not even his responsibility was just the beginning,” they said.

Soon after Hanif briefed Rasheed about the reforms carried out during ex-minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Khawaja Saad Rafique’s tenure and how railways had witnessed a significant increase in income [approximately Rs6.5 billion every year], the new minister lost his cool and started shouting that he was not interested in “fairy tales” and “admonished him for praising the previous minister,” they said.

“Despite being well-aware of the department’s restoration by Saad Rafique, Rasheed continued to malign him in front of media representatives, which irked the officials of the ministry who later revealed facts to media outlets,” sources added.

“Furious over the revelations, Rasheed arrived at the Railways Headquarters in a rather hostile mood and, during a meeting on Sunday, started reprimanding former railways general manager and a respectable official of the ministry, Ashfaq Khattak.”

It is pertinent to note here that Khattak, a former vice chancellor, is the chief of the Railways’ China- Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) team.

According to sources, Khattak was explaining to Rasheed how the reforms carried out during the past five years had saved railways from privatisation when Rasheed demanded that the broad-gauge railways tracks of the CPEC be replaced with standard-gauge tracks.

“Reacting to the directives, the officials told the minister that two different types of lines within the country would adversely affect the operations. Sheikh Sahab then lost his cool yet again and started shouting at Khattak.”

It was when Hanif Gul stepped in and asked Rasheed to calm down over which the minister asked Hanif to “shut up”. “Unable to keep his cool, Hanif asked the minister to do the same and stormed out of the meeting room.”

A railways official, while seeking anonymity, told Pakistan Today that all officials concerned held a meeting soon after to come up with a solution to the issue while Rasheed was away for a press conference. However, he said, in the meantime, Hanif handed the leave application that soon made it to mainstream and social media.

This wasn’t the first incident of its kind as Rasheed had earlier ordered the suspension of two competent officers of the freight department as well, they said, adding that the officers, keeping in view their exceptional records, had only been replaced though.

It may be noted that Hanif, a BS-20 officer, is reportedly one of the most competent officers of the ministry.

Repeated attempts were made to contact Minister for Railways Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad but he was unavailable.

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