The massive bureaucratic reshuffle in Punjab, ordered directly by Prime Minister Imran Khan, brings back Shehbaz Sharif’s team of “go-getters” but in the process might also totally defeat and erode the PTI’s own corruption narrative against the former chief minister.
All key positions in the new setup have been given to Shehbaz Sharif’s blue-eyed officers, who were responsible for development and governance during the younger Sharif’s ten-year rule in Punjab.
Shahbaz men working for Buzdar
Most of these officers were responsible for key projects, which are identified by PML-N and Shehbaz Sharif like Orange Train, Multan Metro, underpasses and mega projects of Lahore, Nandipur power project and others. More than a dozen officers, now brought back to deliver for Usman Buzdar’s government, were directly working with Shehbaz Sharif in the CM Secretariat.
Will Buzdar be able to lead
However, with their fingers crossed, many in the bureaucracy wonder if Usman Buzdar would be able to lead this team of go-getters like Shehbaz Sharif successfully did in the past.
Who is Azam Suleman
The new bureaucratic team being marketed as panacea for all the ills of PTI in Punjab is led my Major (R) Azam Suleman – the new Chief Secretary who has been Secretary C&W (the most lucrative dept in the province) for five years under Shehbaz Sharif.
Shehbaz Sharif took so much interest in development that he never appointed a C&W minister and directly interacted with Secretary Azam Suleman. Azam was instrumental in execution of mega projects in Punjab and Lahore. Reputed to be a tough no nonsense officer, Azam Suleman was regarded as blue-eyed of Shehbaz.
PTI blamed Suleman for the Model Town Attack
According to sources, Shehbaz Sharif had such a great liking for Major Azam and even after his promotion to BS-22 he was retained as ACS Home in Punjab for five years – longest tenure ever. Strangely, at that time the PTI used to blame him for Model Town incident.
The New Cabinet
Officers like Nabeel Awan, Abdullah Sumbal, Nadeem Mahboob, Javed Qazi, Sajid Dahl, all reputed ace officers of DMG/PAS had served in Shahbaz Sharif immediate team as secretary to CM for development, implementation and coordination. All have been given key positions in the recent reshuffle.
Nabeel Awan posted as Secretary Health and also Livestock, Asad Sumbal as Secretary Finance, Nadeem Mahboob as Secretary Housing to implement PM housing vision, Javed Qazi as Secretary LG department, the most important department politically and administratively – Sajid Dahl as Secretary Higher Education.
The PTI has now posted Naseem Sadiq as Commissioner DG Khan, Sumair Syed as DG LDA, Ammar Khan as DG RDA and Ahsan Waheed as Commissioner, Sahiwal. Capt Mahmood, who was responsible for Nandipur power project and Lahore horticulture – two favourite subjects of Shehbaz Sharif- is new commissioner Rawalpindi.
Former CM Shehbaz’ Finance Secretaries Shaukat Ali and Hamid Yaqoob Sheikh have been placed on most important positions of ACS Punjab and Chairman Planning respectively. Abdullah Sumbal who was favourite Secretary of CM Shehbaz and whom he made commissioner Lahore, is now Secretary Finance.
Capt Asad Ullah, who executed Multan Metro is new Secretary C&W and Shaukat Ali who was Secretary Transport and supervised Orange Line is new ACS. Babur Tarar, who was commissioner Sahiwal, Secretary Health and Secretary Cooperatives under Shehbaz, will be Senior Member Board of Revenue in the new setup.
Iftikhar Saho, a well-reputed DMG officer, who was Secretary Planning under Shahbaz for almost five years and was directly responsible for all developments in Punjab, has been picked as Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Buzdar.
A senior retired bureaucrat said that by bringing back the whole Shehbaz Sharif team, the PTI government has defeated its own mantra of corruption under Shehbaz Sharif.
Buzdar’s men sidelined
Another peculiar feature of the latest reshuffle is that many officers considered close to Buzdar have been sidelined. Buzdar’s Principal Secretary Dr Shaoaib has been made OSD. Buzdar’s uncle Capt Ejaz, who was ACS; Tahir Khurshid whom Buzdar made as Secretary C&W and his Principal Secretary have also being sidelined.
Zafar Iqbal, Commissioner of Sargodha, said to be closely associated with Chaudhries of Gujrat, has also been sidelined.
A keen observer of Punjab bureaucracy observed, “It is strange that Buzdar’s favourites have been sidelined and replaced by Shehbaz favourites.” He added, “How would this reality gel with PTI narrative of Shehbaz is bad and Buzdar is great.”