ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s close circle nowadays is in search of the most suitable bureaucrat for the slot of principal secretary to the prime minister (PSPM).

However, the team of relatively junior bureaucrats having close proximity with Sharifs has thronged the PM Office since his assuming charge in June and are bent upon installing their some confidant on this most important slot. The senior federal bureaucrats, however, resented this attitude of their juniors — most of them are from Punjab bureaucracy who have worked under Shahbaz Sharif during 2008-13 — who, they complain, are taking advantage of carefully carved political inroads into the Sharif family. The situation has reached a level where top ministers are also learnt to have registered complaints with the Premier in person for facing difficulties to reshuffle officers in their respective ministries.

The vacancy of PSPM has been lying vacant since Nasir Mahmood Khosa retired on September 14 after a short stint of three months and went to World Bank as executive director after Pakistani government nominated him for the post.

In search of a trusted and loyal bureaucrat, at present names of two high-ranking bureaucrats including Shahid Rasheed, Secretary Establishment, and Secretary Interior Ch Qamar-uz-Zaman, are under consideration for the top slot in the federal bureaucracy.

Not long ago, a list carrying names of five high-ranking officials including Chairman CDA Nadeem Hassan Asif, federal secretary Akhlaq Tarar, Secretary Interior Ch Qamar-uz-Zaman and Secretary Cabinet Mohammad Sami Saeed was sent to Prime Minister for picking up as his PSPM. These five career bureaucrats were short-listed last month and one of them could be the principal secretary to the prime minister, source privy to the developments said.

According to credible sources, appointment of PSPM has seemingly turned out to be a test match between the influential junior bureaucrats and powerful mighty senior bureaucrats. Credible reports coming from the Prime Minister Secretariat suggest that three officers in Prime Minister Secretariat have joined cluster to stop appointing any senior officers in Prime Minister secretariat because presently they have a strong hold in Prime Minister office’s decisions.

The junior bureaucrats include Additional Secretary to PM, Fawad Ahmed Fawad, Press Secretary to PM Mohi-u-din Wani and Prime Minister’s Political Advisor Dr Asif Karmani. All these, it is said, have good terms with Sharif family and don’t want to let any efficient and brainy fellow to reach close circles of the Premier.

The sources in Establishment Division have also confirmed these developments at a time when the Premier needs a support base of efficient and clean bureaucrats to carry his agenda forward at this very critical juncture of country’s history.

Senior bureaucrats are said to have been actively lobbying to grab the most influential and top slot. But sources said this group of three blue-eyed officials of Sharif brothers are busy creating hurdles in appointing any senior and reputed officer as PSPM.

Secretary Cabinet Muhammad Sami Saeed has served as Personal Staff Officer (PSO) to Nawaz Sharif during his last tenure of 1997-99 as prime minister. Meanwhile, Ch Qamar-uz-Zaman is one of the top bureaucrats. He remained in hot waters during the last tenure of PPP due to his unbending reputation. Secretary Establishment Shahid Rasheed is an experienced and confident officer of PM Nawaz Sharif.

Insiders say both are most favourite candidates for the PSPM slot and Nawaz Sharif has short-listed both of them. But all expected candidates are looking helpless due to troika made hurdles in their quest to install some close one as PSPM.

Akhlaq Tarar and Nadeem Hassan Asif are also potential candidates for the slot. Chairman CDA Nadeem Hassan Asif had worked with the previous government of Punjab and served as Principle secretary of the CM and he is also considered as one of the confident and loyal to Sharifs.

Reliable sources said that PM Nawaz Sharif has given the task to his most confident three bureaucrats to short-list the secretary level officers enjoying good reputation and not involved in any kind of corruption.