“There is no virtue so truly great and godlike as justice.”

– Addison

The appointment of Nasir Khosa, an officer with a reasonably good repute, as Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif has raised many an eyebrow.

Khosa only has a few weeks before his retirement from government service. Therefore, his posting in an extremely important and sensitive position has not been taken as a good omen by the majority of bureaucrats.

Having said that, the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s ruling in the Anita Turab case and Khawaja Asif case has laid down a criterion for the postings and transfers of civil servants by any government that is in power.

If it is strictly followed and the officials are allowed to complete their tenures after being posted to a position, these apprehensions will automatically fade away.

But if the PML-N leadership follows the policies of successive governments and orders postings, transfers or extensions of civil servants either under political pressure or on flimsy grounds, then the concern being voiced by certain quarters would be well founded.

Hopefully, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will not just move cautiously, but would allay the fears of the senior bureaucrats by ensuring that no amount of political pressure would be accepted and that no one would be transferred or unseated unless and  until there are valid reasons for it.

It is, indeed, unfortunate that successive governments have moved in the wrong direction, which has resulted in the politicisation of civil service. It must be remembered that government officers have to work within the orbit of the law and constitution.

In the past, for example, the judiciary had to intervene in the province of Punjab when junior police officers were being appointed on senior positions; it surely led to the demoralisation of several senior police officers.

This attitude is definitely unacceptable. Thus, it would be appropriate if all civil servants are appointed and promoted on merit.

It is expected that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will focus on this issue and begin his new tenure – indeed, loaded with huge challenges - with a clean slate and do away with the retired government servants surrounding the Sharif brothers.

There is no dearth of able and competent serving officials, and it would be desirable in case honest people are appointed for different tasks and political pressures are not accepted.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has been an advocate of an independent judiciary, must ensure that confrontation between the pillars of the state is avoided.

All national institutions must contribute their bit in case Pakistan has to overcome the existing challenges and provide the much needed relief to the common citizens so that they have a fair chance to improve their daily lives.

The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist. At present, he hosts a political programme on Pakistan Television.