ISLAMABAD - The federal government is short of bureaucrats as currently some twelve ministries and divisions are being run without permanent heads, The Nation has learnt.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has directed the members of federal cabinet several times to focus on the performance of their ministries but little attention is paid to appoint permanent Principal Accounting Officers of the twelve ministries.

There is no legal or constitutional hurdle in the appointment of permanent secretaries but requires almost half an hour of the prime minister from his busy schedule to chair a meeting of the High Powered Promotion Board which is delayed for at least four months.

Under the service rules, the prime minister chairs high-powered promotion board meeting and it should be held after every six months. The premier chaired the last promotion board meeting on April 30 and approved promotion of 18 bureaucrats.

Sources told The Nation that it is a surprise for all that  the ministries, which have key role in the implementation of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project are also being run without secretaries.

They said that it was first time that the posts of twelve federal ministries are lying vacant but the government is short of officers and a meeting of a promotion board is overdue. Several senior officers of grade 21 have been awaiting their promotion to grade 22 for the last several months, they added.

Available documents with The Nation reveal that the posts of federal secretaries of 12 key divisions were lying vacant and the government could not appoint the permanent federal secretary of Ministry of Information, Broadcasting and National Heritage and assigned acting charge of the post to a senior officer of the ministry Saba Mohsin Raza. Even the government took more than one month in the posting of Saba Mohsin after the retirement of secretary Muhammad Azam Khan.

Similarly, the ruling party failed to appoint the permanent secretary of Ministry of Water and Power and appointed Muhammad Younis Dhanga as Additional Secretary In charge after the suspension of former secretary Nargis Sethi. The government suspended Nargis Sethi on overbilling issue last year. The government also could not post any senior bureaucrat as secretary Planning and Development Commission and appointed Yousuf Naseem Khokar, Additional Secretary Finance as additional secretary in-charge Planning and Development Commission last October.

The documents further say the post of federal secretary Privatisation Division/Commission is also lying vacant and the government posted a senior officer of grade 21 Sardar Ahmad Nawaz Sukhera as Additional Secretary In-charge. Nisar Mohammad Khan grade 21 officer of the Pakistan Customs Services is appointed as additional secretary in-charge of Revenue Division/ Chairman Federal Board of Revenue.

The government handed over the additional charge of States and Frontier Region Division to Federal Secretary of Ports and Shipping Khalid Pervaiz. 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 Communication Division is also awaiting a permanent secretary but the government has assigned the current charge of the post to Shahid Ahsraf Tarar. The federal government ignored another key Ministry of Education and Training and appointed Hassan Iqbal as additional secretary in-charge of ministry affairs after the retirement of secretary Muhammad Imtiaz Tajwar on August 23, however the President appointed Tajwar as Deputy Chairman Of National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

The post of secretary Information Technology and Telecom Division is also lying vacant and the government posted Azmat Ali Ranjha as Additional Secretary In-charge of the division and Justice (Retd) Muhammad Raza Khan is also assigned the additional charge of federal secretary of Law and Justice Division. Interestingly, the government failed to appoint the federal secretary of Narcotics Control Division for last several months. 

The post of secretary Federal Ombudsman is also lying vacant after the appointment of former secretary Ahsan Mehboob as inspector general of Balochistan police.