ISLAMABAD -  In a bid to assert himself in his new role, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has removed two close confidantes of the ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, The Nation has learned.

PM Abbasi has stopped direct interference of Fawad Hassan Fawad in matters related to the federal bureaucracy, sources said.

They said the prime minister has also transferred Mohiuddin Wani, a dynamic officer of the PAS cadre, and posted him as director-general of Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), Lahore.

Abbasi has also appointed Sarfaraz Hussain as deputy press secretary to the prime minister.

Sources said that the prime minister had asked the Establishment Division to make appointments on merit.

Furthermore, he has sought details of grade-21 officers who have been posted on grade-22 posts.

They said that more than 18 posts of grade-22, including 13 federal secretaries and five special secretaries, in various divisions were still lying vacant.

The sources further said that the 13 posts of federal secretaries were handed over to blue-eyed officers of grade-21 during the term of the previous prime minister.

They said that the former premier Nawaz Sharif had given a free hand to Fawad Hassan Fawad regarding transfers and postings of officers in various ministries.

Fawad is presently serving as secretary to the PM, which is known as one of the key posts in the federal bureaucracy.

He was posted to the PM Secretariat a few years ago and was considered the most trusted officer of the ex-PM. He was part of almost all high-level political and security meetings, which were held in the chair of the former prime minister.

Sources said that PM Abbasi on Friday also transferred Muhammad Humair Karim, a grade-20 officer, who was working as joint secretary to the PM and posted him in the Economic Affairs Division.

According to a Establishment Division notification, Sarfraz Hussain, a grade-19 officer of the Information group, has been posted as deputy press secretary at the PM’s Office on deputation basis, initially for three years.

Hussain is a competent officer, and he has served with former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.

Sources in the Establishment Division said the secretary to the PM had complete control over bureaucracy and secretary-level officers could not take decisions in their respective division/ministries without the approval of Fawad Hassan Fawad.

They said that he directly interfered in all divisions’ affairs and appointed junior blue-eyed officers on senior government posts in the last four years.

Earlier, Opposition Leader in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah, Nawaz Sharif’s son-in-law Captain (r) Safdar and federal minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada had recorded their protest with former PM against the attitude of Fawad Hassan.

A senior officer of the Establishment Division told The Nation that Fawad had not passed any order to Establishment Division secretary regarding transfer and posting of any officer after the new PM assumed charge of his office.

He said that during former PM’s tenure Fawad regularly issued instructions to the secretary regarding major transfers and postings of bureaucrats.

Earlier, Fawad had allegedly given lucrative posts to his batch mates and blue-eyed officers.

The Nation tried to call Fawad Hassan and also sent texts to his mobile phone for his version on the issue, but he did not respond.