LAHORE - The Punjab government, in a unique move, has created a new seat of Grade-22, besides upgrading the existing seat of Grade-21.

As per a notification, after promotion of Additional Chief Secretary Shumail Khawaja to Grade-22, his seat was upgraded. Likewise, Home Secretary Maj (r) Azam Suleman was also promoted to Grade-22 and a new seat of ACS Home was created to adjust him in the Punjab.

This is for the first time in history that ACS Home and ACS S&GAD will be Grade-22 officers besides the chief secretary and the IGP.

Official sources said a proposal was underway to retain both of the senior officers in the Punjab after their promotion to the next grades.

It is relevant to mention here that a special vacancy of the additional chief secretary (social sector) has also been created. The Punjab CM had issued the direction that the S&GAD ACS, one of the top officers in the provincial hierarchy, is to be posted as ACS (social sectors) with immediate effect. This will be the third ACS in the Punjab for the first time in the provincial history. But, afterwards for reasons best known to the Punjab government, neither new seat of ACS (Social Sector) was created nor could S&GAD ACS Shumail Khawaja could be posted against this seat.

There is another post of ACS Energy, duly created to accelerate work on energy issues.  Interestingly, at present the top energy slot is being run on additional-charge basis. Planning and Development Board chairman, a Grade-21 officer, the most important slot in the development sector, was entrusted with the additional charge.

Now, after upgrade and creation of new slots of Grade-22, at least six officers of Grade-22 could be posted in the Punjab against the slots of chief secretary, ACS S&GAD, ACS Home, Chairman P&D, Senior Member Board of Revenue (SMBR) and IGP.

Moreover, the Punjab government may also upgrade ACS Energy seat to adjust another officer of Grade-22.

The slots of the SMBR and ACS Energy are being run as stop-gap arrangements on additional-charge basis. After the last SMBR Capt (r) Zahid Saeed was posted as CS Punjab, the top revenue office was running on additional-charge basis.

When contacted, a senior officer, requesting anonymity, said there is no such precedent to retain senior officers of Grade-22 in Punjab as they are repatriated to the federal government for further posting on promotion to Grade-22,. He said, instead of upgrading the ACS S&GAD and creating ACS Home slots, the government should have posted officers of Grade-22 against the slots of SMBR and P&D chairman.

To a question, he said the government might post a new officer as home secretary as the responsibilities of this office multiplied after the war on terror. Moreover, with the start of the new operation Raddul Fasaad in the Punjab, the role of the home department has become very critical. There is a need of ACS Home in the Punjab government to supervise the progress on NAP.

Talking about anomalies, he said the officers of Grade-18 and 19 were posted as secretary in the Punjab. Some junior officers were drawing many times more salaries in different projects than their senior officers, he pointed out.