The promise of Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan to stand by the bureaucracy in times of crisis and to ensure that the institution works independent of any political pressure is a commendable one. His earnest, straightforward statements to the country should boost the morale of the institution as the decision to stand up to political pressure is a difficult one – the bureaucrats are often faced with consequences for daring to stand up to politicians.

Yet, even as Imran Khan was making this statement to the entire bureaucracy, the two deputy commissioners (DC) who actually stood up to this pressure by refusing to bow down to unjustifiable demands are being punished for their action.

Chakwal DC Ghulam Saghir Shahid and Rajanpur DC Allah Ditta have reportedly been served show-cause notices for “violating the chain of command” by reporting political meddling by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf legislators.

This comes merely weeks after the Khawar Maneka fiasco, when the Punjab IGP was forced to remove DPO Rizwan Gondal following his altercation with Mr. Maneka and his subsequent refusal to apologise to him personally. While the government took notice of the issue following the loud outrage caused by this, the outcome now is disappointing to say the least. His transfer is still in effect and the Punjab government has come up with conflicting reasons and different stories for why he was removed – there still is no one narrative. Furthermore, instead of investigating the Punjab government has gone on discredit the DPO for his actions, painting him negatively on multiple occasions.

If all of this was not enough Punjab Chief Secretary Akbar Durrani on Wednesday directed deputy commissioners to refrain from making public their objections to political interference if there is any and instead reporting it only to their immediate superiors.

The upshot of all of this is, while the Prime Ministers goes on television to tell bureaucrats to not bow to political pressure and do their duties with the utmost honesty and sincerity. The government in Punjab is cracking down on the only bureaucrats that have tried to do what he is espousing. This is a shameful situation that must stop.

The cooperation of the newly formed government and the bureaucracy is very important in a system because these two help the government function smoothly. Every agenda that the government plans to pursue will need coordination, especially with the bureaucratic ranks. The institution itself is showing the inclination towards not working under pressure, but Imran Khan must ensure the revival is not crushed.