Firdous chastises civil servant for not extending protocol

LAHORE: Special Assistant to Punjab Chief Minister on Information Firdous Ashiq Awan found herself on the receiving end of flak for flaying a lady assistant commissioner during a visit to a government Ramadan market in her hometown of Sialkot on Sunday.

Video clips of the incident making rounds on social media suggest Awan lost her temper at Sonia Sadaf, a BPS-17 officer of the Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS), after she found shopkeepers at the market selling “substandard” food items.

However, reports quoting sources said Awan was already annoyed at the official for not extending her protocol when she reached the market.

“Where were you when I arrived [at the setting]?” Awan shouted. “There was a great rush of people [surrounding you], I could not make it to the front row to receive you,” Sadaf responded but could not satisfy a furious Awan.

“Have you come down from the heavens […] or is your life more precious than that of those present here,” she shouted, giving the official no time to respond.

“It is your duty to check every commodity in the market since you are being paid for that,” Awan thundered. Sadaf replied the fruit got spoiled due to the intense heat, adding the issue could be discussed “calmly”, but could barely explain herself as Awan continued rounding on her for “hiding in the back”.

“You are not even acting like an assistant commissioner,” Awan told Sadaf. “We need to question the shameless person who appointed you [about your performance].”

As the assistant commissioner stormed off the scene, Awan asked her to “go sit in a VIP drawing room”.

Later in the day, Punjab Chief Secretary Jawad Rafique Malik condemned Awan’s “uncivilised” behaviour.

In a statement issued from his office, Malik said the reservations of the bureaucracy have been expressed to Chief Minister Usman Buzdar.

The morale of the PAS cadre, he said, slumped to a low after the public humiliation of the young official. “Officers say can’t perform under such circumstances when already burdened by Covid-19 crisis,” he said.

In its statement, Young Pakistan Administrative Service Association (YPASA), the union of fresh PAS civil servants, “condemn[ed] this uncivil behavior.”

It expressed hope “that our politicians learn to understand that only via mutual respect the pillars of good governance can be strengthened”.

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