Opinion: The country can’t be run through verbal orders

October 11, 2018

Federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry has triggered a debate about the authority of lawmakers to dictate the bureaucracy and interfere in administrative affairs.

On Wednesday, Fawad Chaudhry said the ministers have a right to appoint their favorite officers. He added that bureaucrats will have to obey even verbal orders of MNAs and MPAs.

“Police and bureaucracy are answerable to lawmakers. They are bound to respect public representatives.”

However, Khalid Azeem, an analyst with SAMAA TV, disagrees with Mr Chaudhry, saying that lawmakers should use proper forums to hold the bureaucracy accountable.

“No doubt the bureaucracy is answerable to institutions. But there is a particular procedure for the answerability,” the analyst said.

The information minister said: “It is the right of lawmakers to oversee the bureaucracy.” He warned that a bureaucrat who did not obey orders and did not ‘implement the mandate’ will be sent home.

The minister’s remarks contradict what his boss, the prime minister, said last month. Mr Khan said that the government would not interfere in the affairs of the bureaucracy.

It also negates a recent apology Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and former Punjab IG Kaleem Imam tendered in the Supreme Court in the case of Pakpattan DPO’s transfer.

DPO Rizwan Gondal was said to be transferred at the behest of Khawar Maneka, the first husband of Mr Khan’s third wife.

“If the lawmakers have complaints against the bureaucracy, there are particular forums for it. The issue can only be raised in parliament on the point of order or through the adjournment motions,” Azeem said.

“The MNAs can’t issue directives on telephones. If your orders are not obeyed you can’t say that someone has refused to answer the entire parliament,” he said.

The CJP took notice because Buzdar personally summoned the police officer and scolded him. It was an unlawful act, Azeem said. “The CM apologized because he admitted his mistake and because he violated the rules.”