LAHORE - Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has approved the purchase of seven vehicles for VVIPs’ security, making a mockery of his own austerity campaign.

Sources said a couple of weeks ago, the IGP wrote to the Finance Department, requisitioning the chief minister to allow the purchase of seven vehicles for the VVIPs’ security squad “had been using outdated vehicles”.  The Finance Department forwarded the request to the CM who gave go-head to release the funds for buying four Double Cabins for the Security Division while three Land Cruisers for the Special Branch. An official said the vehicles would cost about Rs44 million (Land Cruisers Rs8 million each and Double Cabin Rs5 million each).  The IGP made the requisition at a time when the chief minister banned the purchase of items such as stuff for renovation of official residences and offices, furniture and vehicles as part of his austerity campaign. However, another senior officer said the purchase of vehicles for the security purposes was not banned. He claimed that the CM could relax rules and policies for special purposes.

“The austerity committee has turned down requisitions of the administrative secretaries and the district coordination officers demanding new vehicles for executing official duties,” said a Finance department deputy secretary requesting anonymity.  But, he added the proposals of austerity committee were also usually rejected by the CM Office. He claimed that there was a good number of vehicles in the S&GAD’s pool that were unfit but the department could not replace them owing to austerity measures of the incumbent regime. A police officer said on anonymity that the Punjab lawmen were using outdated vehicles, though a good bulletproof vehicles, Mercedes Benz, BMW and Toyota land Cruisers were being used for the VVIP security purposes.  The Special Secretary to the Finance department could not be reached for comments.

Reshuffle: Punjab government on Monday transferred and posted officers. As per notification, Irrigation Department Additional Secretary (AS) Syed Haider Iqbal was posted as PESSI Vice Commissioner. OSD Faisal Zahoor was promoted and posted as AS, OSD Akram Javed as BOR Member Judicial, Hassan Haroon Hoti as Deputy Secretary Development S&GAD, DG PHA Muhammad Ahamd as OSD and additional charge of the post was given to DCO Noorul Amin Mengal.

Multan PHA director was posted as OSD, DOC HRM Faqeer Hussain was posted as Director PHA Multan, Finance Department DS Saima Ali as Sahiwal Additional Collector while her predecessor Zahid Mumtaz as OSD, Dr Fakar Masaud as Punjab Civil Defence Director, DOC HRM Multan Ghulam Mustafa as Addtinal Collector Mianwali, Tania Malik E&T Section Officer (SO) was transferred and ordered to report Child Protection Bureau, OSD Ashfaq Sial as E&T SO. Sadiqabad AC Farooq Umar was posted as Multan Development Authority SJM, Housing department SO Anjum Zuhra as Muzaffar Garh General Assistant Revenue, SO Agriculture Asad Abbas as Rajanpur General Assistant Revenue (GAR), ACE Bahawalpur AD Khalid Mehmood Gopang as DG Khan Collector Consolidation, General Assistant Vehari Zafar Ali Malik as DG Khan GAR, Sports Assistant Director Irshad Ahmad as Layyah GAR.