LAHORE - New Punjab Chief Secretary Yousuf Naseem Khokhar will face serious challenges, as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government has claimed to replicate the KP model in the province.

Role of the Civil Secretariat under the incumbent government would be central that earlier was that of a post office.

Constitution of a team without surrendering to any pressure will be major task for the new chief secretary. Earlier, the chief minister’s office used to nominate secretaries, commissioners, deputy commissioners, regional police officers and district police officers. Besides considering posting of officers sidelined during the previous government, Khokhar has to search honest and hardworking officers to post against vacant slots.

Habib-ur-Rehman Gilani, whose name had reportedly been put on the ECL in Grand Hayyat Hotel scam, was posted P&D Chairman in Punjab. CS will have to make a strategy regarding officers facing severe corruption charges and holding key positions both in police and civil bureaucracy.

Former Punjab CS Parvez Masood said that officers had been facing fear since NAB implicated them in financial embezzlement cases. He said that during his tenure officers had powers like executive magistracy and they could deliver. How the government expects of an officer service delivery without empowering him, he questioned. The DC office, he pointed out, has become a redundant entity as all his powers have either been abolished or centralized during consecutive regimes.

The PTI political leadership has major expectations from CS because it had pledged to overhaul local bodies system, depoliticize police and bureaucracy and bring civil service reforms. The neglected areas of education and health would need his attention. Though the creation of the South Punjab province was a distant dream, the establishment of the mini-secretariat in Multan would be another test of the new CS. He will have to deal with over six dozen companies’ scam, their closure and refund of overdrawn salaries by officers, misuse of staff cars, introduction of work audit, ghost officials issue, protection of officers’ tenure, handle row with the provincial service officers and above all implementation of rotation policy on transfer of officers. At present there is no mechanism to check credibility of an officer while making posting against an important positing.

Ongoing anti-encroachment scheme, his role in judicial activism, backlog of departmental appeals, establishment of e-governance, revival of the BOR with reforms in the Punjab Land Records Authority, end of the patwari culture, making public of the Pak-China contracts and focus on revenue courts would be other challenges for him.

Moreover, control of irrigation water theft and collection of billions of rupees tawans from farmers, curbing of electricity and gas theft, success of billion tree campaign, restoration of law and order would be other areas he will have to focus. Chief Secretary Khokhar will have to play his role to get the state land vacated from illegal occupants and speed up reforms in the criminal justice system.

The probe into burnt official records right from Lahore DC Office to LDA Plaza, Imran Plaza, Cooperative Building etc, punish the responsible officers and devise a mechanism to make the record secure in future would be another big challenge for the provincial head. 

The new CS will have to conduct audit of the government's biggest spending sectors like Orange Line worth over Rs 250 billion, construction of Metros Multan, Lahore and Rawalpindi along with subsidy worth over 100 billion rupees, Khadim e Punjab Rural Road programme worth Rs 150 billion. Likewise, Rs 156 billion irregularities pointed out by commercial audit in public sector companies including 76 billion pending paras. The CS will have to stress the departmental audit committees and the special committee constituted under the ACS to accelerate work to settle the audit paras or forward them to the PAC. Massive corruption scam in the small dams’ project might be probed and revived by CS Khokhar.

As head of the bureaucracy, the CS Khokhar had to make monthly visits around the province. After former CS Javed Mehmood’s tenure it was least practiced by the top bureaucrats. He might require other secretaries to visit their field formations as well. The dual and triple national bureaucrats serving in different departments, their undeclared assets and fleeing from the country would be other stressed areas.

As former CM had stated that since chief secretary was chief accounting officer so he might be summoned in scams and questioned instead of the chief executive. As the PTI leadership had announced creation of ten million jobs, the Punjab would have to bear major burden on recruitments. A former CS said that the PTI leadership would expect the new CS to make the best of a messy situation it inherited and take responsibility to ensure the ‘change’.

The chief secretary summoned a meeting of secretaries of departments on Monday to get apprised of key issues. The CS is likely to give them necessary guidelines and share his agenda.