ISLAMABAD - The federal government could not appoint permanent heads of seven key ministries though Prime Minister promoted almost 40 bureaucrats to grade 22 in June last, The Nation has learnt.

According to documents available with The Nation, the matters of seven key ministries are being run without permanent secretaries despite the fact that these ministries linked with China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) directly and indirectly.

The PM chaired the high powered promotion board meeting and prompted around 40 officers to grade 22 on January 11, 2016. Interestingly, the federal government did not pick officers who were promoted and instead given the tasks to look after the ministries as Additional Secretaries In-charge to its blue-eyed officers.

The documents reveal that the posts of seven federal secretaries are lying vacant and several senior officers are awaiting the posting since their promotion in January. The federal government could not post a permanent head of Ministry of Water and Power after the suspension of former secretary Nargis Sethi and appointed Muhammad Younis Dhanga as Additional Secretary In-charge.

The ruling party also failed to appoint any senior grade 22 officer as secretary Planning and Development Commission but appointed Yousuf Naseem Khokar as additional secretary in-charge Planning and Development Commission last October.

Interestingly, the post of federal secretary Privatization Commission is also lying vacant and the government appointed a grade 21 Sardar Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera as Additional Secretary In-charge. Muhammad Irfan Elahi Sq.Ldr (Rtd) grade 21 officer has been posted as additional secretary in-charge of Aviation Division.

The office of the federal secretary of Commerce Division is also awaiting a permanent head but the Azmat Ali Ranjha grade 21 0fficer of Pakistan Administrative Service (PAS) has been posted as Additional Secretary In-charge of the division.

The PM assigned Nyla Qureshi to look after the charge of the post of Secretary Law and Justice just after the Panama Leaks. Similarly, the post of Statistics is still lying vacant and Tariq Mahmood Pasha has been appointed as Additional Secretary In-charge. Rizwan Bashir of grade 21 officer has been posted as Additional Secretary In-charge Information Technology and Telecom Division.

According to the sources, there is no legal or constitutional hurdle in the appointment of permanent secretaries of all ministries/divisions but the federal government wants the matters of all key ministries to its control. They said that the incumbent government did not allow the civil bureaucracy to take independent decisions in the last three years, especially the divisions which have direct role in the implementation of CPEC projects.

The sources further said that the Establishment Division has started homework for the upcoming High Powered Board meeting which will be expected at the end of this month. Two to three federal secretaries will retire in the next two months, they added.

Under the service rules, the prime minister chairs high-powered promotion board meeting and it should be held after every six months.