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HindustanTimes Fri,29 Aug 2014

World

Pakistani daily bats for official who spoke trade with India
IANS
Islamabad, October 08, 2012
First Published: 11:15 IST(8/10/2012)
Last Updated: 11:16 IST(8/10/2012)

A Pakistani daily is unhappy that a senior official who played an important role in the relaxation of the trade regime with India "has been put out to pasture".

An editorial in the News International said that given the gravity of the crisis in the country's power sector, "one might have thought it appropriate for the person at the very top to give it his undivided attention, not distracted by other tasks and responsibilities".

"It is thus something of a conundrum as to why it is that the man who, for the first time in years, looked like somebody who might actually challenge the satraps, defaulters and debtors that strangle all of us now finds himself ‘On Special Duty’ - OSD," it said.

Secretary Water and Power Zafar Mehmood is the latest in a long line of people to be handed the "poisoned chalice of ‘power’."

But, he has been replaced by Nargis Sethi, who has been given the additional charge of water and power.

"Sethi is already a busy woman with several other hats to wear and it may be wondered - given her other responsibilities - if now was really the right time to burden her with the power portfolio," the daily wondered.

The editorial said: "The man who has been put out to pasture was engaging in what the State Bank of Pakistan wanted, namely a root and branch overhaul of the defective governance of the energy sector and a challenge to the culture that allowed circular debt to become the monster that it is."

"Mehmood was the right person for the job but a poor political fit. He had pressed ahead with a campaign to recover dues from power distribution companies who had been dilatory, not to say totally negligent, in recovering monies from serial defaulters, ‘influentials’ who, as we all know, are entitled to free everything - power included," it added.

The daily noted that the official "played an important role in the relaxation of the trade regime with India and clashed with another senior government official" over a coal project.

"In short he may have been too good at his job for his own good and fell afoul of political chicanery...Proactive bureaucrats are the very last thing the myopic mediocrities at the top of the political pile want to be rocking their lucrative boats," it added.


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