ISLAMABAD - The federal government has failed to appoint federal secretaries in five key divisions due to a dearth of grade 22 officers as junior officers could not be promoted for the last one-and-a-half year, The Nation has learnt.

According to documents available with The Nation, five divisions/ministries - Human Rights, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs, National Security divisions, Planning Development and Reform Division and Statistic Division are being run on a stopgap arrangement basis. 

The federal government has made grade 21 officers (additional secretaries) in charge of two divisions - Statistic Division and Planning Development and Reform Division.  The federal government may appoint a grade 21 officer as “additional secretary in charge” of any ministry.

Well-placed sources told The Nation that only a grade 22 officer, Amjad Ali Khan, is waiting for posting from the Establishment Division.  Khan served previously as chief secretary Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.  

The sources said that the government was planning to fill the vacant posts and to appoint new permanent secretaries in the next week. The sources said that no senior officer was available to look after the matters of three divisions.

In August, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a meeting of the High Powered Promotion Board and approved the promotion of 13 officers from grade 21 to grade 22. According to rules, PM chairs the High Powered Promotion Board meeting after every six months.  

Talking to The Nation, a senior officer said that there was no legal or constitutional hurdle in the appointment of permanent secretaries of all ministries/divisions but the federal government wants the affairs of all key ministries in its control.   He said that the promotion of around 400 senior officers of different services groups was in doldrums due to a delay in promotion board’s meeting regarding grade 20 and 21 officers. He said that the shortage has been created owing to delay in promotions of hundreds of officers.  

The Central Selection Board’s (CSB) meeting for the promotion of grade 19 officers and 20 has not held in the last one-and-half-year after a few officers challenged the last CSB meeting in court. The official said that around 400 posts of grade 19, 20 and 21 were lying vacant till the court adjudicates the matter.

He said that several senior officers will be retiring from their services without promotion and their promotions were due for the last five to six months.