- Civil servants as rolling stones
Politically motivated postings and transfers of bureaucrats have taken place under the previous governments also. However, what the previous two governments did in 10 years, the PTI has managed to do in two. In Punjab, district-level administrators and police officers who insisted on acting according to the book were replaced with those who were expected to accommodate the ruling alliance’s MPAs and MNAs and thus help them strengthen their hold over their constituencies.
The provincial bureaucracy is required to carry out the political agenda of the provincial government, which includes cooking up cases against opposition leaders and helping the PTI government win the local government elections whenever they take place. This explains why the Punjab government has replaced three chief secretaries and five IGPs within two years.
The way NAB treated bureaucrats who were close to the PML(N) government made civil servants feel insecure. A perception was created that they too might be hauled up for decisions made in good faith gone wrong. A demoralized bureaucracy decided to go slow, resulting in inefficiency on the part of the government.
Secretaries and other officers working at the federal level were also required to help the ruling party and reduce the influence of the opposition. More courageous civil servants who had the temerity to tell the PM that what he wanted them to do was illegal or against the national interest were made OSDs, the most prominent case being that of a federal finance secretary who was seen to be tough in negotiations with the IMF and was therefore told not to attend the last few meetings of the mission representatives. A DG FIA was transferred to an inconsequential department because allegedly he refused to get terrorism cases filed against members of Ms Maryam Nawaz’s social media team for lack of any solid evidence. For similar reasons he declined to oblige when told to file cases against PML(N) President Mian Shahbaz Sharif and his family members. Both Grade 22 officers resigned.
By making the bureaucrats rolling stones, the PTI government has violated the Supreme Court injunctions laid down in Anita Turab’s case. The case of the Lahore CCPO indicates the type of public servants it likes, irrespective of the social consequences of their acts of omission and commission.