LAHORE -  Two words-overworked and overstretched-can describe the present state of bureaucracy struggling to cope with the ‘Punjab speed’ working non-stop to achieve the set targets. 

Not only this, Punjab’s civil bureaucracy is also highly understaffed facing shortage of both junior and senior officers.

Since they have to work almost 12 hours at a stretch under a demanding Chief Minister, their job stretches them a lot. And still they have to work and deliver.

This is the essence of what the Punjab Chief Secretary Captain (Retd) Zahid Saeed shared with the journalists in Punjab Assembly yesterday.

He now also sits in the Assembly to be accessible to the legislators.

On Wednesday, the Chief Secretary also chaired a meeting on Health Department in his newly established camp office there.

But his team may be overworked and sick, in some cases, but they are not overwrought in any way moving ahead to meet the development goals.

A big gun in the bureaucracy, the Punjab Chief Secretary was under media spotlight on Wednesday as he stepped out of his camp office.

In his rare interaction with the media persons outside the Assembly, he gave interviews to different news channels separately answering questions on the new budget allocations and the development goals the government wanted to achieve before the elections.

Saeed admitted that civil officers in Punjab were overworked due to long working hours which stretched them a lot.

He said that a written request has been made to the Federal government seeking the services of senior officers.

“We are even facing shortage of officers in grade 18 and 19, but the situation will improve after a Promotion Board meeting this month.”, he said, adding, that Punjab had become the centre of development activity as the country was heading towards fresh elections.  

Asked about the reasons behind setting up of camp offices in Punjab Assembly for the Chief Secretary, Administrative Secretaries and the IGP, he said that this arrangement has been made under instructions from the Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif especially for the budget session.

Previously, he said, the legislators would leave the Assembly to visit the Civil Secretariat to get their works done. But they would not be able to meet the officers who would be busy attending important meetings, he added. 

Senior bureaucrats usually avoid the media and never give interviews until their retirement.

But Captain (Retd) Saeed has surely become the first Punjab Chief Secretary to be interviewed by many news channels in one stretch.

He faced the journalists for well over half an hour braving the scorching heat under a small tent.