Governance suffers as Panamagate lingers on in SC

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif attends the closing session of 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit in Kathmandu November 27, 2014. A brief meeting between India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistani counterpart appears to have salvaged a summit of South Asian leaders, with all eight countries clinching a last-minute deal to create a regional electricity grid. REUTERS/Niranjan Shrestha/Pool (NEPAL - Tags: POLITICS) - RTR4FUCN
  • Five slots of grade 22 officers are awaiting PM’s nod

  • Secretaries of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Communications and Petroleum yet to be named

It seems that Panamagte case is taking its toll on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as governance has become the first casualty of the high-profile case whose proceedings at the Supreme Court of Pakistan have caught the attention of the ruling family.

Well-placed sources in the federal government have told Pakistan Today that the prime minister was so busy these past few days that he was delaying key decisions of the federal government, including the appointments of four federal secretaries and Chairman of Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR).

They say that it seems that the entire business at the Prime Minister’s Office has come to a halt and everything has turned static.

A source in the Establishment Division told Pakistan Today that the prime minister has to decide the appointments of at least five officers of grade 22, including the key slots of Secretaries for Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Finance.

“Moreover, the appointments of full time secretaries of the Ministry of Communications and Ministry of Petroleum are already pending with the prime minister,” the source said.

The source added that the appointment of Chairman Federal Bureau of Revenue (FBR) was also pending with the prime minister.

Despite repeated calls and text messages sent to her number, State Minister for Information Mariyyum Aurangzeb did not respond. Rao Tehseen Ali Khan, Principal Information Officer (PIO), also did not respond while his staff officer was also unable to provide with their version.

While Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has not appointed foreign minister, he has also failed to appoint new Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The source said that the ministry had forwarded three names for appointment of the foreign secretary including Abdul Basit, Tehmina Janjua and Syed Ibne Abbas.

Abdul Basit is currently Pakistan’s Ambassador in New Delhi where he has been doing a splendid job. Before moving to New Delhi, Ambassador Abdul Basit was Pakistan’s Ambassador to Germany till March 2014. He has also served as Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Spokesman.

Ambassador Tehmina Janjua has been serving as Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva. She has earlier served in permanent missions of Pakistan in both Geneva and New York. Her last assignment was Pakistan’s Ambassador to Italy.

Syed Ibne Abbas has been serving as envoy to United Kingdom. He has been associated with some controversies attached to the sale of High Commission’s chancery building.

With the tenure of Finance Secretary Waqar Masood ending on January 20, there is yet no decision on his successor. Tariq Bajwa, currently Secretary of Economic Affairs Division, is favourite for the post of Secretary Finance.

Per sources, other probable names for new finance secretary include Shahid Mehmood Khan, who is currently Executive Director to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Shahid Mehmood previously worked as a Special Assistant to Minister Finance Ishaq Dar. Secretary Commerce Azmat Ranjha is also in the queue for the slot of Finance Secretary.

As the term for the incumbent Chairman FBR ended on Tuesday, January 17, the country also awaits appointment of his successor. The proposed officers for the post of Chairman FBR are Rehmatullah Wazir, Khwaja Tanvir and Tariq Mehmood. Wazir previously worked as Chief Commissioner RTO Karachi. However, Khwaja Tanvir is set to retire in December 2017.

The source said that full time appointments of Secretary Communications and Secretary Petroleum are also being dragged on by the PM Office.

Additional Secretary Arshad Mirza currently has the charge of Federal Secretary Ministry of Petroleum. Khalid Masud Chaudhry is currently officiating as Acting Secretary Ministry of Communications. Despite the fact that the Ministry of Communications is undertaking mega projects under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), there is neither a full time minister nor secretary for the ministry. Moreover, the appointment of Chairman of Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) is also overdue.