Pakistan is in turmoil. From politicians to the generals to the common man—everybody is embroiled in chaos up to the neck. But there is one exclusive community that basks in luxury and relishes the best of both worlds — super bureaucrats.
There are almost 50 Grade-22 officers now. This excludes the super-duper Salman Farooqui, who as Secretary General in Grade 22 with the status of a State Minister, holds the golden key to the Presidential treasures. Also excluded are half a dozen Grade-22 officers hired on contract including Special Secretaries to the President Mrs Nasreen Haque, Special Secretary Establishment Division Munir Ahmad and the three secretaries of the Election Commission of Pakistan, the Senate and the National Assembly, not to forget the two retired generals monitoring Defence Division and Production. Wow, quite a figure. Well that’s just half of the story.
Another 170 are waiting in Grade-21, half of them having their two-year waiting requirement fulfilled, are pulling every string to get into the Super Club-22. Where will it lead to? The Club-22 ballooning into a 100 or even more, if we allow them to have their way. Remember the Devolution of power. It was meant to, besides provincial autonomy, cut the size of the government. The idea was not to have duplication of ministries. And here it is - the babus keep coming out with new divisions, autonomous and regulatory bodies, wings, departments — all those fancy words that basically come down to more expansion and more perks.
There are 44 Divisions already besides autonomous and regulatory elephants. Why do we have a Human Rights Division?
Ever heard a Grade-22 officer by the name of Shaigan Shareef Malik raising his voice for the Baloch missing people or standing by the Hindu women abducted in Sindh. All we know is that the government is the biggest violator of human rights.
The government may have abolished its privatization policy but the one-time expanded Privatisation Division stays. Do you know about National Harmony Division? What does Inter Provincial Coordination do? Or the National Food Security and Research Division or the more intriguing National Heritage and Integration Division. Even the CIA could not have coined such dubious names for these outfits. Underneath these fancy names are huge edifices created for our worthy members of the Club-22 to run their small fiefdoms of staff cars, the colonial peons and toilets are clearly marked “For Officer”—tax-payers money be damned. After all, they did not pass that CSS bloody exam 35 years ago to be the ‘public servants,’ goes the saying.
They trick is to keep upgrading these post. The Chairman of the Provincial Planning and Division was a Grade-21 post that got elevated to Grade-22. The same is the case with the Chairman Land Commission and Senior Member of the Punjab Revenue Board. Punjab also has a Grade-22 officer as the Acting Chief Secretary. No wonder Shahbaz Sharif loves these babus so much and holds a contempt for his own political class. His earlier Chief Secretary, Javed Mahmood, who was accused of crushing down a Colonal, the last we heard, was supervising family agriculture in Kasur after taking a long leave. He will still be eligible for all the perks and pension for sure. Club mates take care of each other. In the past, others have worked for Chaudhry Shujaat’s Mill as Manager while keeping their job.
Yet the ground is ripe for making way for more members of the Super Club. About ten vacancies of Grade-22 are still vacant and are being run by acting Heads. This includes the CDA and we all know that the last few heads of this prized outfit have either been pushed out or, such as Kamran Lashari, faces corruption charges before the Courts. By the way, Lashari is now adviser with the Punjab government. Told you Shahbaz Sharif loves them—who cares about the Supreme Court.
Also, the Supreme Court has also ruled that no extensions will be given. Yet the contracts to retired people keep coming. In fact, the two most important Divisions are being run by retired officers on contract. Wajid Rana, who was given a contract in last November, runs the Finance Division. More important, Munir Ahmad has been hired as Special Secretary in Establishment Division for a two year contract. Why? Because he specializes in bending rules and making more room for people like himself. Why should there be a Special Secretary when they already have Taimoor Azmat as the Establishment Secretary. Then why should there be a Special Secretary of Water and Power also?
It’s a total mess. Salman Farooqui refuses to give way at 70 plus whereas hundreds of junior officers in non-DMG grades sulk for years for the promotion board to just sit down.
Nargis sethi has an additional charge while the most senior 22-grader in officialdom, Zafar Mahmood, sits at home for the last four months for a ‘posting'. By the way, it was again His Lordship who caused this anomaly. A recent holy judicial scripture makes it mandatory for the government to give reasons if they send an Officer on ‘Special Duty', the official-speak for the notorious acronym OSD. Trust the bureaucrats to find novel ways of beating the law. They just make them sit at home without salary for months, which is worse than being an OSD. What a send-off for one of their own kind who retires after 35 years of service in April…retirement without salary.