‘Sifarish’ culture getting deeper in system
Prime Minister Imran Khan’s relations with bureaucracy have gone bitter since he assumed the office of the country’s chief executive. He always wanted the bureaucracy to perform at optimum level but his statement about ruthless accountability of the corrupt deterred the bureaucrats from performing well.
The prime minister also wanted the bureaucracy to shun ‘sifarish’ culture. But the circumstances suggest that ‘sifarish’ is becoming the buzz word — all postings being given on some reference or sifarish.
Recently PTI government has entered into an agreement with its coalition partner PML-Q regarding transfers and postings.
Secretary Mines Amir Ejaz Akbar and Secretary Environment Zahid Hussain have been given postings on recommendations and PML- Q quota.
These postings have been made by sidelining Chief Secretary Punjab Major retd Azam Suleman Khan. It is yet to be seen how these two secretaries work with the Chief Secretary Punjab.
Recently posted Secretary Irrigation Zahid Akhtar Zaman was recommended by Federal Minister Shafqat Mahmood. In addition, DG Anti-Corruption Punjab DIG Gohar Nafees has been posted on the sifarish of Advisor in federal government Shahzad Akbar and, therefore, DG Anti-corruption is following the instructions of the federal government, instead of the Punjab government.
Gohar Nafees is busy retrieving government land from the qabza mafia, though it is the duty of district administration.
The top administrators of the province also have links with some powerful elements that is why the government has empowered them to complete the hiring and firing.
In the province of Punjab, every officer is judged by his sifarish, the more powerful sifarish an officer has, the more honour he gets. Those without connections are running from pillar to post.
Grade-20 DMG officer Dr Naveed Ahmed Chaudhry who doesn’t have powerful sifarish and depends simply on his performance has been thrown out of the race in getting any worthwhile posting.
Sometimes the government surrenders his service to the federal government and sometimes his proposal for posting is dropped without any justification.
It is also a buzz word on social media as well as political and bureaucratic circles that the chief executive of Punjab Sardar Usman Ahmed Buzdar had got this slot because of the first lady. His governance is very weak and no notable development work has been done so far. The government’s popularity graph is falling every day and still, he is sticking to his position.
Ex-secretary Irrigation Punjab Syed Ali Murtaza always succeeded in securing best posting due to the sifarish of some influential judicial members.
Due to the posting close to the rulers, these officers in fact serve their bosses instead of the state. They not only carry out illegal orders of their bosses but also line their own pockets with ill-gotten money.
Although those with strong sifarish are in dominating positions at present, the situation will change the moment their backers are no longer there. At the time these officers will be facing NAB investigations.
In the past, only Mian Shahbaz Sharif ran the whole government while now there are many to run the government and bureaucrats but the PTI government is being run by so many people at the same time. Still, the result is zero.
Additional Chief Secretary Punjab Shaukat Ali always advised the young bureaucrats to approach local MPA for getting posting at Tehsil level. All Tehsil level posting transfers are being made on the recommendations of Local PTI MPAs and MNAs. This is a dilemma.
Chief Secretary Punjab Major retd Azam Suleman Khan is a powerful bureaucrat and is backed by one of the most powerful bureaucrats of the country. The PM and CM Punjab should give him free hand in all types of hiring and firing. When a right officer will be posted at the right place more than 90 per cent issues will automatically be resolved. The PM should also follow the KPK model in the province of Punjab. This will be possible when no political or administrative interference is made in governance. All officers should be allowed to work on merit only.
Both Chief Secretary Punjab and IG police are well-reputed officers and PM should convey to all the concerned authorities to avoid interference in administrative powers of bureaucracy.
The right officer at the right place should be the slogan of the government.