Where is premier’s PS Khushnood Lashari?
ISLAMABAD, July 5: The Prime Minister’s Office is reported to be in a fix because few civil servants are keen to be elevated to the key bureaucratic position of principal secretary to the PM.
“The general elections are to be held in March next year and since these eight months will add no additional value to the resume of a bureaucrat who will prefer to serve for a longer period in the next government,” a senior official told Dawn.
Where is Principal Secretary to the PM Khushnood Akhtar Lashari? It is a million-dollar question. Is he on medical leave?
According to a bureaucrat, it is difficult to say anything about the possibility of Mr Lashari’s return to his position, especially because of his alleged involvement in the ephedrine scandal.
Prime Minister’s public relations officer Farah Jabeen told Dawn: “He [Mr Lashari] is on leave.” Asked if he will return to his office, she said:
“The word over the grapevine is that he will return.”
Another senior official of the PM’s House, who did not want to be named, said Mr Lashari was to resume his duty in the first week of July and rumours about his staying in the UK permanently should not be given any importance.
A close friend of Mr Lashari, who did not want to be identified, told Dawn: “Mr Lashari underwent prostate medical tests and also a biopsy in London.”
He said Mr Lashari was due to arrive on Tuesday but he had to delay his return because his physicians advised him to undergo biopsy.
“He will also undergo a few more tests,” he added.
The additional charge of establishment secretary which Mr Lashari held has already been given to Information Secretary Taimoor Azmat.
According to a senior official, Mr Azmat was close to the presidency, especially to Secretary General Salman Farooqi, and he was given the responsibility because there was no-one to handle transfers and postings of civil servants.
Special Secretary Munir Ahmed, who had been posted in the establishment division, was not given the additional charge of establishment secretary. “Mr Ahmed assists the government in court cases,” an official said.
Hasan Nawaz Tarar, who is second in command at the PM’s secretariat, has been given the additional charge of principal secretary to the PM.
“Since an additional secretary has been given the additional charge of principal secretary to the PM indicates that Mr Lashari is likely to make a comeback,” said an official of the PM’s House.
But there are rumours that the PM’s House has started considering the names of officials, including Secretary for Cabinet and Defence Divisions Nargis Sethi, Capital Administration & Development Division Secretary Imtiaz Inayat Elahi and Shahid Rafi, a retired civil servant, as Mr Lashari’s replacement.
Shahid Rafi worked as secretary in the ministry of water and power when Raja Pervez Ashraf held the charge of that ministry. Mr Rafi is being investigated by the National Accountability Bureau for his alleged involvement in the rental power projects scam.
An official said Nargis Sethi had served as principal secretary to the PM, but her close association with former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani might not go well with Raja Ashraf.
The official said Imtiaz Inayat Elahi was known as a non-political person and was not involved in a major controversy during various assignments.