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New Bureaucratic Command and Poor Fate of Governance in Punjab

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Muhammad Faisal Ali Ghumman

With another reshuffle of the provincial top bureaucracy, the federal government has now apparently come up with another rescue to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s blue-eyed Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar who is hitherto fast losing ground to rule the province.

The recent replacement of Chief Secretary Punjab Yousaf Naseem Khokhar with retired Major Azam Suleman and Inspector General of Punjab Police retired Captain Arif Nawaz Khan with IG Shoaib Dastgir without any solid justification implies that the provincial chief executive has been once again rescued from his poor governance model and shortsightedness to understand the gimmicks to run the affairs of the government.

It is quite apparent that the PTI government has been failing to deliver either in the federal set up or in Punjab owing to professional capacity issues of the ministers and lack of experience for the last 15 months and blaming entirely the bureaucracy for not delivering to the public satisfaction.

Without supporting the entire civil service chain in Punjab for their shortcomings, one even comes to understand easily that excessive transfers and reshuffles never helped correct the flawless governance model.

In my last 17 years’ journalism practice, I came across several reshuffles in field postings under the name of improved governance with no visible change. What I listened and heard was a blame game between the public representatives and bureaucracy for poor service delivery.

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If citizens are not being facilitated in terms of health, education, sanitation, agriculture, food, criminal justice, and other public services only field bureaucracy shouldn’t be blamed alone as the failure to deliver on ground directly involves both public representatives and civil servants who work together under system based on set patterns.

Unfortunately our successive governments focus more on administrative changes and cosmetic measures to save their skins rather applying corrections to the decades-old ill and corrupt norm and practices in the way of political and administrative governance.

Some well-reputed field officers in both regional and district administration were transferred on Friday only after few months solely because of new provincial command- a haphazard exercise that establishes one thing that the new chief secretary and IGP skipped evaluation of each officer before reshuffles.

The new officers who have been posted as Commissioners, Deputy Commissioners, Regional Police Officers, City Police Officers and District Police Officers on Friday will have not much different mode of working and public service delivery than the one who were transferred.

The whole exercise of massive reshuffles in only 24 to 48 hours by the top command shows that lists had been already prepared to change the field officers on liking and disliking basis- a trend usually upcoming CS and IGP adopt before getting posted.

The worst-ever political interference in matters of public administration has already become the hallmark of PTI cum PML-Q government in Punjab as multiple groups in both parties have been maneuvering transfers and postings of majority officers in field.

The tenure instability of field officers is at its peak owing to absence of any supportive and backing mechanism.

“We are unaware of the factors concerning the appointments of top command. Only one thing I can tell you is that bureaucracy is under severe pressure on instability and lack of support to our tenure,” comments a young serving bureaucrat in Punjab.

There are reports that the principle secretary to the Prime Minister, whom Imran Khan trusts blindly, is also active in interfering in the provincial administrative matters of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa and Punjab, through sometimes fails to get his favorites appointed as in case of new Punjab CS and IGP.

Now Buzdar will make tall claims of good governance by pretending that his newly picked officers would improve public service despite the fact that previous CS and IGP were also posted under the same impression.                

The short term measures like abrupt transfers within a province without having proper homework will never bear positive results unless civil servants are kept away from undue political interferences and victimization.

The responsibility also lies on the shoulders of civil servants to do away the practice of getting lucrative postings to their own ulterior benefits by maneuvering political and institutional figures.

Faisal Ghumman 1

–The writer is blogger, former English Content Specialist 92 News HD, Ex-Editor Daily The Business and Ex-Correspondent Daily Dawn 

He can be reached at alfaysal77@gmail.com, https://twitter.com/alfaysal77

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