ISLAMABAD - Incoming Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif is said to have short-listed two candidates for the top slot of principal secretary.

According to highly credible sources high-ranking bureaucrats Ch Qamar-u-Zaman or Mohammad Sami have been short listed and one of them could be the principal secretary to the next prime minister.

Sources said Saeed Mahdi, former principal secretary to Nawaz Sharif during his last stint as prime minister, and his top confidant during the last many years, is playing a key role in selection for top slots in the federal bureaucracy. And top bureaucrats are said to have made a beeline these days to get in touch and have an audience with Saeed Mehdi.

The PML-N President Nawaz Sharif is likely to be sworn in early next month as the session of National Assembly has been called on May 28. With the new set-up on the cards, senior bureaucrats are said to have been active lobbying to grab the most influential and top slots. And principal secretary to the prime minister is considered as the most influential and top bureaucratic slot.

Muhammad Sami has served as Personal Staff Officer (PSO) to Nawaz Sharif during his last tenures of 1998-99 as prime minister. Meanwhile, Ch Qamar- u-Zaman is one of the top bureaucrats and served as secretary interior in year 2009. He has been in hot waters during the last tenure of PPP due to his good reputation.

Insiders say both are most favourite candidate for the PSPM slot and Nawaz Sharif has short-listed both of them.

Nasir Khosa, now federal secretary of the textile ministry, is a potential candidate for the cabinet secretary slot.

Sources also said that he might be appointed as secretary general for the Ministry Water and Power, an upgraded slot, and one other secretary might also be appointed with him to the important assignment immediate control and chalk out the strategy for eradicating the loadshedding in the country and coming up with new power generation initiatives.  

Khosa had worked with the previous government of Punjab and served as chief secretary of the province for over four years.

Soon after the exit of the Shahbaz Sharif government, he was removed from the post and appointed chief secretary of the Sindh province on April 4, a senior official said.

But within two days the notification of Khosa’s new assignment was withdrawn and he was asked to join the Ministry for Finance as its secretary but within days, he got transferred as secretary Textile Ministry.

Reliable sources in the PML-N said that party Chief Mian Nawaz Sharif has given the task to his most confident bureaucrat former PSPM Saeed Mehdi to short list the secretary level officers enjoying the good reputation and not involved in any kind of corruption charges.

Now a days mostly bureaucrats are trying to get recommendation from Saeed Mehdi to get jobs in the next federal and provincial governments. Some who enjoy backing from within PML-N rank and file and bureaucratic lobbies are still visiting the PML-N chief residence at Lahore regularly.

There are so many attractive jobs in the capital city and abroad and every bureaucrat is trying to get his hands on the lucrative job.

These include federal secretaries, heads of autonomous bodies, positions in various public sector enterprises, commercial counsellors or economic ministers in foreign embassies, chairman of the Capital Development Authority, establishment secretary, cabinet secretary, and posts in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Various bureaucratic lobbies are at play seeking to get their allies installed at key positions.

Sources said that Dr Tauqeer Shah and Fawad Hassan Fawad, District Management Group officers, who have worked closely with Shahbaz Sharif are being approached by hopefuls. Some bureaucrats have recently approached Shah and Fawad asking them to plead their case before the Sharifs, it was learnt.

Another strong bureaucrat lobby patronised over the years, especially during the five years of the last PPP regime by a prominent property tycoon in Islamabad is also in top gear these days. It includes some 20 senior bureaucrats and is led by Taimor Azmat Usman former secretary establishment.

 They are also trying to get good positions in federal government by using property tycoon’s contacts with Sharif brothers.

Sharifs were reportedly angry with the property tycoon over his close links with President Zardari, but he property tycoon is said to have bridged differences with PML-N employing his deep pockets in the election campaign of the party.

Previously, in the PPP era the same property tycoon had full power to appoint any bureaucrat at any lucrative post without even informing Prime Minister and President, officials believed.

He just made one call to secretary establishment and with seconds the desired letter was faxed to his office.

Another source said that large scale transfer postings of bureaucrats are not expected, and only few secretary level important transfer and posting will be made by the new PML-N government, initially.

He however added that when the new federal cabinet would be sworn in the new federal ministers would be given choice to come up with their bureaucrat teams to handle the issue of their ministries.