Lahore - Reversal of devolution has reached new heights with Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar at a higher echelon of power who has taken even petty issues into his own hands.

Contrary to the PTI government claims to devolve power to the lower strata of the society, ensure decentralisation, depoliticisation and merit-based recruitments to key positions, recruitments of millions of educated persons, the current steps by the Punjab government tell a different story.

Legislation to empower local councils in the province on the pattern of KP was under way and Prime Minister Imran Khan had himself chaired a meeting on the subject.

First of all, a ban was imposed on transfers of Assistant Commissioners who are also tehsil collectors, and then recruitments were restricted. On Tuesday a complete ban on all types of transfers and postings was imposed across the province.

As per documents, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar has imposed a complete ban on all kinds of postings and transfers except against vacant positions in Punjab with immediate effect. Ban will continue till further orders.

According to the notification of ban on transfers and postings, the under-process procedure for posting/transfers in schools education department shall continue. However, if any posting/transfer is required to be made on hardship/ compassionate or extreme administrative grounds, prior approval will be sought from the chief minister through a summary, the notification says.

During CM Shahbaz Sharif’s government, Gen Musharraf era devolution was reversed. District Nazims were made ‘irrelevant’ in the new system and all devolved departments were again centralized. Devolved revenue courts in the district level were again centralized and the commissioners were made appealing authority. Police remained unbridled. There is no check on the police since district magistracy was abolished. Public Safety Commissions could never make their place as political governments used the law enforcing agency for their interests.

The PTI government had criticized centralization of power during the last government. Former CM Shahbaz Sharif regime was termed as “one-man show” in the province because all official business was approved in the CMO. Moreover, CM directives in administrative matters also provided a window for political interference.

Sources also say that a cold war between the Civil Secretariat and CM office bureaucracy has been started. Officers say that instead of indulging into petty affairs of the government, the CM Buzdar should focus on a policy level. They further say that the Chief Secretary Yousuf Naseem Khokhar was not given free hand on the selection of his team. “Many officers were directly posted as DCs on the ‘direction’ of the CM Office” sources claim. How the provincial administrative chief may deliver when he lacked officers of his choice, an officer questioned. He said that the same was the matter with the police department as reported.

Officers on anonymity further said that the need was to further devolve the powers rested with the CM. there was no need of CM’s approval in all types of transfers and postings and promotions. The micromanagement on CM level shatters his focus on the policy decisions.

Information minister Fayaz ul Hasan Chohan was not available to comment on the issue.