The massive bureaucratic reshuffle in Punjab carried out on the orders of Prime Minister Imran Khan last week has brought back all blue-eyed officers of former Punjab chief minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif’s team.
According to a news report, most of these officers were responsible for key projects initiated by Shehbaz such as the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT), Multan Metro, underpasses and other mega projects of Lahore besides the Nandipur Power Project. More than a dozen officers, now brought back to deliver for Chief Minister Usman Buzdar’s government, were working directly with Shehbaz at the CM Secretariat.
The new bureaucratic team being marketed as panacea for all the ills of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Punjab, is led my Major (r) Azam Suleman — the new chief secretary who has been the secretary of the most lucrative provincial department, Communication and Works (C&W), for five years under Shehbaz.
The former Punjab CM took so much interest in development that he never appointed a C&W minister and directly interacted with the secretary. Azam was instrumental in execution of mega projects in Punjab, especially Lahore, and is reputed to be a tough no-nonsense officer and Shehbaz’s blue-eyed.
According to reports, Shehbaz had such great liking for Azam that even after his promotion to BS-22, he was retained as the additional chief secretary (ACS) (Home) for five years — longest tenure ever. Strangely, at that time, the PTI used to blame him for the 2014 Model Town massacre.
Bureaucrats like Nabeel Awan, Abdullah Sumbal, Nadeem Mahboob, Javed Qazi and Sajid Dahl — all reputed ace officers of the administrative services, who served Shehbaz’s immediate team — have also been given key positions in the recent reshuffle.
Nabeel has been posted as the health and livestock secretary, Sumbal as finance, Nadeem as housing, Qazi as local government, while Dahl has been appointed as the higher education secretary.
Similarly, a number of former principal staff officers (PSOs) like Sumair Syed, Amara Khan, Ahsan Waheed and Naseem Sadiq, who were given key portfolios by Shehbaz, have now been brought back by the PTI government to mainstream administration.
Sadiq has been appointed as Dera Ghazi (DG) Khan commissioner, Syed as the director general (DG) of the Lahore Development Authority (LDA), Khan as the Rawalpindi Development Authority (RDA) DG and Waheed as Sahiwal commissioner.
Captain (r) Mahmood, who was responsible for the Nandipur Power Project and Lahore horticulture — two of Shehbaz’s favorite subjects — is now the new Rawalpindi commissioner.
Capt (r) Saif Anjum, whom Shehbaz trusted with the Irrigation Department for three years, has been made Lahore commissioner, Momin Agha, another blue-eyed of Shehbaz and who served as his information secretary as well as the Faisalabad commissioner, has been posted as ACS (Home).
The ex-Punjab CM’s Finance Secretaries Shaukat Ali and Hamid Yaqoob Sheikh have been placed on most important positions of Punjab ACS and Planning and Development (P&D) chairman, respectively. Abdullah Sumbal, who was appointed as Lahore commissioner by Shehbaz, is the finance secretary.
Capt (r) Asadullah, who executed the Multan Metro project, is the new C&W secretary while Babur Tarar, who was Sahiwal commissioner, health secretary and cooperatives secretary under Shehbaz, will be a senior member of the Board of Revenue (BoR) in the new setup.
Iftikhar Saho — another well-reputed officer — who was P&D secretary under Shahbaz for almost five years and was responsible for all development across the project, has been appointed as the principal secretary to CM Buzdar.
A senior retired bureaucrat said that by bringing back the entire team back, the PTI government had contradicted its own mantra of corruption under Shehbaz.
Another feature of the latest reshuffle is that many officers considered close to Buzdar or the Chaudhrys of Gujrat, have been sidelined.