Politics dictates AJK officials' reshuffling

22 May 2009
The Dawn
Tariq Naqash

Muzaffarabad: The AJK government on Friday reshuffled some senior officers, mostly secretaries, but some of the transfers clearly appeared to be driven by political compulsions instead of merit.The transfers and postings were approved by Prime Minister Sardar Mohammad Yaqoob Khan before flying to Syria in the wee hours of Friday to attend an OIC contact group meeting on Kashmir. According to an official notification, additional chief secretary (general) Raja Mohammad Arif was transferred as principal secretary to the prime minister in place of Chaudhry Munir Hussain who was posted as commissioner Mangla Dam Affairs in Mirpur. The incumbent commissioner Chaudhry Amir Afzal was relieved of his responsibilities at the termination of his contract. Mr Arif, a BPS-21 officer, is spouse of minister for social welfare Noreen Arif. He was said to be interested in getting appointed against this BPS-20 post while retaining his present position. The notification was silent on transfer of any official to fill in the position of ACS-G. Secretary presidential affairs and information technology Chaudhry Khurshid Ahmed was transferred as secretary forests, wildlife, fisheries and Azad Kashmir Logging and Sawmills Corporation in place of Sardar Mohammad Rahim Khan who was transferred as secretary trade, industries, mineral resources and labour. Sources told Dawn that Mr Rahim, considered to be an upstanding officer, had become an unwelcome person in the eyes of some influential public officeholders for resisting moves to impair the wealth of forests allegedly for personal gains. He had also frustrated efforts for backdoor induction of a senior government servant's son in the forest department. Among others, incumbent secretary trade, industries, mineral resources and labour Mohammad Ilyas Abbasi was transferred as secretary agriculture and animal husbandry vice Sardar Naeem Ahmed Shiraz who was transferred against the vacant post of secretary physical planning and housing. Mahmood Khan, joint director Mangla Dam upraising project, was transferred and posted against the vacant position of director general State Disaster Management Authority. Abdul Sami Khan, director general, monitoring and evaluation was transferred as secretary planning and development, currently a non-existent post. He would, therefore, continue to receive salary against the post of DG M&E till further orders. Midhat Shahzad, a BPS-20 officer serving as additional secretary president's secretariat, was posted as secretary presidential affairs-information technology. The latest transfers, however, once again ignored Mushtaq Awan, a senior and competent officer of PWD, currently heading a UN-funded project. A disgruntled Mr Awan told Dawn he was considering taking premature retirement due to the 'unfair treatment' being meted out to him.ACTING PM Meanwhile, Prime Minister Sardar Yaqoob on Friday appointed cabinet member Chaudhry Mohammad Yousaf as 'the most senior minister for the time being' to act as prime minister till his return from Syria on May 28, dashing once again the hopes of health minister Sardar Qamaruz Zaman who has been desperately trying to get appointed as permanent senior minister.