LAHORE - Prime Minister Imran, who dashed to the provincial metropolis Tuesday evening on a short visit, told the Punjab ministers and lawmakers that government will give preference to the top performers in the civil bureaucracy irrespective of their past association with the former rulers. 

“They are state servants and they have to work with every government. We should not cast aspersions on them just because they previously worked with any other government,” he said in response to some lawmakers’ fears about certain bureaucrats still occupying important positions under the present government despite their known association with the Sharif family.

According to sources privy to prime minister’s yesterday interaction with the Punjab ministers and legislators, Khan pleaded that a negligible percentage [of civil servants] might have political affiliations with the PML-N, but the majority of the officers should not be tagged with the Sharif family. 

Sources said that a number of Punjab Assembly members pointed out that many bureaucrats loyal to the PML-N were still working on important positions and hence needed to be replaced.

Also, a source close to the prime minister told The Nation that government was hunting the top performers in the civil bureaucracy irrespective of whether or not they had served the previous governments. “Whosoever performs better, will stay. The rest will get other postings in accordance with their ability to perform if they don’t come up to the expectations,” he said. The source also said that there were only 10 to 15 per cent top performers in both public and private sector institutions and they were the ones who occupy the top positions. He said government will give six-month time to the bureaucrats and the government will come to know in this period if they could deliver or not.

Addressing the meeting, the prime minister warned that ministers not performing up to mark will be shown the door. “Now, ministers’ performance will be judged periodically. A system of rewards and punishments will be put in place. Ministers not performing well will be changed,” he warned.

The prime minister also said that PTI’s government will make Pakistan a social welfare state and the common man will remain its prime focus. “The poor are looked after well in every civilized society,” he said, adding that the Citizens’ Portal was operational and now the people would directly hold the government responsible [for its acts]. “God Almighty will help us if our intent is right,” he said.

He asked lawmakers there was nothing to worry about the hue and cry raised by the opposition parties. He affirmed that credit went to the PTI for breaking the years-old two-party system in the country.

Talking about his upcoming visit to China, Imran said that China was a friendly country and he would try to persuade Chinese leadership to give technology to Pakistan. He clarified that Saudi Arabia had not attached any strings to its aid package.

He said government thought it better to contact the friendly countries first before approaching the IMF [for bailout package]. Khan added that the entire world knew that Pakistan was an important country in the region.

Prime minister hoped that things would get better in the days to come as the worst period was over now. “Now we need to focus on issues of governance,” he averred, adding that present government had inherited the account deficit from the previous governments.

Earlier, the prime minister held separate meetings with the Punjab Governor, Ch Mohammad Sarwar, Chief Minister Osman Buzdar and Speaker Punjab Assembly, Ch Pervaiz Elahi. He discussed with them current political situation and governance issues pertaining to Punjab government.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar briefed the prime minister on the steps taken by the Punjab government for implementation of 100 says agenda of PTI government. Reportedly, Usman Buzdar also briefed the prime minister on the progress achieved on the housing programme in Punjab.

Meanwhile, according to an official handout, the participants of combined session of PTI’s provincial assembly members and ministers, held under the chair of Prime Minister Imran Khan here Tuesday, appreciated his decision to make Usman Buzdar as the chief minister and paid rich tributes to him.

Ms Sadia Sohail Rana, MPA said that Usman Buzdar’s handling of parliamentary party affairs was praiseworthy and the critics had been silenced because of his good attitude. She thanked the prime minister for giving a good chief minister to the Punjab province. Another MPA quoted the example of introduction of Waseem Akram and Inzimamul Haq in Pakistan cricket by Imran Khan in the past and said that choosing Usman Buzdar for Punjab will prove equally good. He further said that Osman Buzdar was available to the public round-the-clock. “We always watch him performing work,” he said, adding that tolerance and patience were the important characteristics of Usman Buzdar.

While talking to prime minister, other assembly members also appreciated the performance of chief minister and the cabinet, according to the handout.

Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar started proceedings of joint session of PTI’s MPAs and provincial ministers with the recitation of Surah Al-Ikhlas. He also welcomed the prime minister in the meeting of MPAs and added that it was the first opportunity that PM had directly accorded to the MPAs. He also thanked Punjab Assembly members who always sided with him and showed unity in the assembly.