A story by Abdul Rehman Khan
The Secretariat of the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers have evolved into powerhouses, so the principal secretaries of the chief executives. These secretariats, especially those of Chief Ministers, have rendered the office of Chief Secretaries and Services and General Administration Departments ineffective and powerless. Incumbent Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif was instrumental in making the CM secretariat a powerhouse when he was Chief Minister of Punjab. The practice remained the same, and following CMs made it even more potent.
Like all other secretariats in Pakistan, bureaucracy controls the CM secretariat in Punjab. The principal secretary to CM is the most potent bureaucrat in the power corridor who ensures CM’s discretion. Then, there are secretary implementation and special secretaries, followed by an army of additional and deputy secretaries alongside section officers.
These bureaucrats are allotted divisions, districts and departments to carry forward the directions of the CM and cabinet. As Chief Minister is the competent authority and chief executive, thus the intervention of the CM secretariat is enormous in the working of District administration and departments. They are now parallel offices to Deputy commissioners, District Police officers and Secretaries. People, political workers, instead all and sundry, influence the public offices through the office of the CM secretariat.
Lately, the discretion of CM has become law. Consequently, the bureaucrats in the CM secretariat impose this law on all departments by exercising force, intimidation and even blackmailing. They do not care about merit, law and procedure. Their only priority is to implement the discretion of CM. Then, they also implement their desires through the defacto power of CM. They influence transfers, recruitment, adjustments and discretions. They are highly politicized bureaucrats; they have turned into political workers of the parties. Then, the path of the CM secretariat is the way forward for their lucrative postings. Bureaucrats who work in the CM secretariat get positions of Deputy Commissioners, DPOs and others. Their alliance with political persons is the merit of bureaucracy in Punjab presently. The CM secretariat under the government of the present regime of Pervez Ilahi is the political hub of nepotism, corruption and blackmailing.
On the condition of privacy, several officers have informed the republic policy that they receive so many calls from the office of the principal secretary daily to adjust so many people without merit. CM secretariat provide lists for recruitment, transfers, developmental schemes, and other tasks not possible under the law. Then, most of the DCs, DPOs and Secretaries are posted owing to their political connectivity and promises. The rest of the bureaucracy is despaired due to the meritless working of the CM secretariat. It has rendered the offices of the Chief Secretary, S&GAD and other administrative Departments ineffective. For example, even the CM secretariat has mostly done the latest recruitment of ad-hoc doctors. The new recruitments, especially class IV, are being managed by the bureaucrats of the CM secretariat. Alongside, there is no merit in recruiting professionals on an ad-hoc basis. The illegal deputation of posting is rampant and erratic posting is the merit only.
Imran Khan and PTI trumpet merit, transparency and corruption-free governance. However, the present CM secretariat is opposite to the narrative. Sources claim that so many political agents of the politicians are making money from the people by recruiting, transferring or adjusting them. The culture of nepotism and blackmailing in the CM secretariat is rising. The operations of the CM secretariat have compromised the existing system of administration. All heads of the organizations toe the line of the CM secretariat than law and rules. The summaries to CM have grown exponentially in recent months, and adjustments are a regular practice. An officer inside the CM secretariat has claimed that it is now a loot-sale affair in the CM secretariat.
Political discretion is essential. However, this must remain under the law. How can bureaucrats working in the CM secretariat become political workers? They are the fundamental reason for destroying the whole system of merit and transparency. A fact-finding commission may be formed to look into their assets, perks and privileges and how they have been instrumental in destroying the system of governance. Senior officers claim that merit and transparency shall remain aloof until the working of the CM secretariat comes under law, merit and transparency.