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Why Can’t Zahid Akhtar Zaman Give One Of His Two GOR Houses To Abdullah Khan Sumbal’s Widow?

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LAHORE: Chief Secretary (CS) Punjab, Zahid Akhtar Zaman, holds two government residences in GOR-I, which is uncommon among senior bureaucrats who typically have only one residence, The Scoop (TS) has learnt. 

Sources informed TS that Zaman had a residence in GOR-I prior to his appointment as Chief Secretary. After assuming the new role, he was allocated a larger house but did not vacate his previous residence, thus maintaining possession of both.

A senior bureaucrat working at the Civil Secretariat disclosed to TS that many BPS-19 and BPS-20 officers belonging to various service groups including PMS, PAS, and PSP cadres, who are eligible, have applied for government residences in GOR but have not been allocated housing. Meanwhile, the CS enjoys the privilege of two residences.

The issue of government housing extends beyond just allocation. The Punjab government has faced challenges in enforcing its authority, particularly in evicting a powerful retired bureaucrat from a GOR-1 house, despite an eviction notice endorsed by Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz.

On April 22, the government issued Jehanzeb Khan, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of Pakistan, a three-day notice to vacate the 16-Golf Road residence in GOR-1. This action followed an earlier legal eviction notice that had already expired.

Originally, the GOR-1 residence was allocated to the late former Punjab Chief Secretary Abdullah Khan Sumbal on July 20, 2022, while simultaneously revoking Mr. Khan’s allotment. After Mr. Sumbal’s death on September 6 last year, his widow, Dr. Ainul Momina, sought the house’s allotment. On November 21 last year, the Punjab government officially permitted Dr. Momina to retain the residence until January 21, 2030, coinciding with her late husband’s superannuation date.

Sources confirmed to TS that Zahid Akhtar Zaman is actively working to get the house vacated for Dr. Momina. Despite his efforts, questions have been raised about why Zaman does not vacate one of his residences for Mr. Sumbal’s widow if he is genuinely concerned about the welfare of his former colleague’s family. A senior bureaucrat questioned, “If he is actually concerned about Mr. Sumbal’s widow and his family, why doesn’t he vacate one of his houses for them?”

Furthermore, bureaucracy sources emphasised that while action against the retired bureaucrat who refuses to vacate is necessary, an immediate solution could have been provided by the CS by offering one of the residences he currently holds.

Despite these complexities, senior officials remain silent about the lack of action against the former bureaucrat. The caretaker Punjab Cabinet discussed this issue in its 37th meeting on January 24 this year, resolving to evict Mr. Khan and transfer the property to Dr. Momina.

However, the efforts by the Punjab government have been largely ineffective, with senior bureaucrats suggesting that internal obstacles are preventing enforcement actions, especially after the eviction deadline passed.

This case highlights ongoing issues of governance and the equitable distribution of resources within the highest levels of the provincial administration, raising concerns about fairness and transparency in governmental procedures. As the situation remains unresolved, it underscores broader implications for public trust and the effective management of government assets.

 

 

Hassan Naqvi
Hassan Naqvi
Hassan Naqvi is an award-winning digital, print, and broadcast investigative journalist who is the co-founder of The Scoop. He also hosts his web shows 'The Scoop' and 'The Hassan Naqvi Show'.

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