No heads roll over Secretariat attack incident


Top officials of the Punjab Home Department and Lahore police on Saturday attempted to hush up the facts into the Civil Secretariat attack incident during a high-profile meeting chaired by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Saturday, sources told Pakistan Today.
However, the axe has fallen on Secretary Services Sikander Sultan Raja, whose additional charge of additional chief secretary (ACS) was taken back on Friday. The responsibility has now been given to Housing and Works Department Secretary Mirza Suhail Amir.
In a prime example of negligence, lack of coordination and mismanagement on various levels, the bureaucrats and police officials concerned failed to handle a massive protest which turned violent at the seat of the provincial government. Thousands of employees, mostly women, from the Population Welfare Department besieged the Civil Secretariat, broke official vehicles, thrashed officers and ransacked the chief secretary’s office while the entire administration looked on. The Punjab government is already probing the incident while the CM called a meeting of top bureaucrats and police officials on Saturday to fix the responsibility of the secretariat attack incident.
However, sources privy to the development revealed that it was a failure of the Home Department, intelligence agencies and police to handle the situation which turned “out of hand”.
All the PWD employees initially had protested in Model Town, but no official turned up to listen to their grievances. Moreover, the PWD secretary had written to the chief secretary and the CCPO Lahore about the protest outside the secretariat which turned violent and became a mockery of civil administration.
The sources said that while the protesters were outside the secretariat premises, the DSP security kept calling his superintendent, but his calls went unanswered.
“Only nine policemen were present to guard the secretariat from a mob of around 4,000 disgruntled employees in a situation when the chief secretary, CCPO and Special Branch had already been informed about the protest…it is ridiculous that the special branch did not know of the increasing numbers when scores of employees were gathering at Nasir Bagh and marching towards the Civil Secretariat,” the source said.
Sources further said that in a high profile meeting in 2010 it was decided and notified that the home secretary is responsible for the security of the secretariat and its internal security wing will look after the matter.
“The meeting was chaired by the ACS and one of the agenda items was about the security of the civil secretariat and it was decided that the home secretary will personally hold meetings from time to time to look after the security matters of the secretariat…nowhere is it mentioned that the ACS is responsible for the security…it is clearly the home department, district administration and police…no one could do anything that day without force even top police officials were standing behind guards during the protest,” the source added.
An official privy to the meeting seeking anonymity revealed that the police officials admitted negligence and told the CM that the policemen were “demoralized” because whenever they took action, they are called by courts.
However, no action has been proposed and no responsibility has been fixed. “The chief secretary did not attend the meeting because he thought it would be biased for him to be in a meeting which is about an attack on his own office, but the meeting was such a disappointment that bureaucrats were thinking it had better not been called in the first place,” the official added.
Another official “smelled” the manifestation of a rift between the district management group (DMG) and police officers, who did not show up or send additional force for considerable time to ward off the mob, just to prove to their DMG colleagues their “worth” without “force”.
Talking to Pakistan Today Secretary Services Sikander Sultan said that the charge of the ACS was to be given to Suhail Amir “in any case” and has nothing to do with the secretariat attack incident.