Former Punjab chief minister (CM) Shehbaz Sharif’s rule is back in the province without him as the massive bureaucratic reshuffle, ordered directly by Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan, has brought back the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) chief’s team, contradicting the narrative of his own government against Shehbaz’s alleged corruption.
According to The News, all key positions in the new set-up have been given to Shehbaz’s blue-eyed officers, who were responsible for development and governance during the now PML-N president’s ten-year rule in Punjab.
Most of these officers were responsible for key projects, which are identified by PML-N and Shehbaz, suchas the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT), Multan Metro, underpasses and other mega projects of Lahore besides the Nandipur Power Project and others. More than a dozen officers, now brought back to deliver for CM Usman Buzdar’s government, were directly working with Shehbaz at the CM Secretariat.
However, with their fingers, crossed many in the bureaucracy wonder if Buzdar would be able to lead this team of go-getters like Shehbaz successfully did in the past.
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 ec-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.