ISLAMABAD: Azam Khan is the second senior bureaucrat of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) who works as the Main Secretary for the Prime Minister.
Previously, Shamsher Ali Khan was just another civil servant from KP who had served in this slot but only for a short time. For the most part, the post has been occupied by officers from Punjab. Officials from Sindh, Balochistan or KP rarely get this position.
In the past, prominent civil servants such as Qazi Aleemullah, Anwar Zahid, Captain (R) Ehsani, AZK Sherdil, Saeed Mehdi, Saleem Abbas Jilani, Ahmad Sadiq, Javed Sadiq Malik, Khalid Saeed, Nargis Sethi, Khusnood Lashari, Nasir Khosa, Javed Aslam and Fawad Hasan Fawad got this important place.
The most senior 22nd class officer has been taken for this position. However, in the past, Nargis Sethi, Fawad Hasan Fawad and Azam Khan were in class 21 when they were appointed as main secretaries. Then, they were promoted to class 22.
Azam Khan was recently in the eye of the storm. Pakistan’s former secretary general Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Jahangir Tareen accused him of conspiring and holding him responsible for his dispute with Prime Minister Imran Khan. Tareen was annoyed with the report weighing the investigation committee led by the head of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) into sugar fraud.
Later, Shehzad Arbab, a former KP chief secretary, who had been the prime minister’s adviser on the establishment of a bureaucratic placement, also appointed Azam Khan, when he was accidentally moved from that position. A few days later, he was appointed as a special assistant to the prime minister at the time of his establishment with the status of a federal minister. He openly accused Azam Khan of this cheating. Arbab also heads the cabinet committee which advises the prime minister on the appointment of federal secretaries and heads of central institutions. During the 2018 election, he assisted Imran Khan as the head of the PTI election management cell.
Now, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan has voiced his complaint against the main secretary who claims that he was asked by him to resign as a special assistant to the prime minister about information or he will cancel his notification. He said only the prime minister had the right and power to call for his resignation.
Azam Khan chose not to respond to the claims of the three figures. However, it is a difficult fact that the main secretary never makes such decisions on his own and always does what his boss orders. A principal’s secretary usually does not show himself. In the context of this statement, Azam Khan has found mention of it in print and electronic media, encouraging many to ask who Azam Khan is.
Azam Khan was included in the batch of Central Superior Services (CSS) in 1990. He topped the 17th general CSS exam throughout Pakistan. After attending the Abbottabad Burn Hall, a missionary boarding school which was very popular with the aristocracy landing at KP, he took his Masters in International Relations from Quaid-e-Azam Islamabad University. After getting first place in the national competition, he was allocated to the District Management Group (DMG).
Originally from a middle-class agrarian family Yousafzai Pakhtun from the village of Kandarkass in Mardan, Azam Khan gained social upheaval when he married the daughter of a former member of the Pakistan People’s National Assembly (PPP) Kol (R) Nawabzada Amir Khan Hoti from Mardan. Hotis is known as Nawab from Mardan.
In his formative years, Azam Khan served as assistant commissioner at Chunian and Taxila. After that, he served in the KPK for the next twenty years. He was appointed deputy commissioner of Peshawar after the Pervez Musharaf military coup. He also serves as KP’s chief secretary, additional chief secretary for tribal areas, and secretary for sports, tourism and youth affairs, and home and tribal affairs. He was the interior minister during very difficult times when the Taliban played havoc in the KP and tribal areas.
Azam Khan entered into the good books of Imran Khan when he worked as a tourism and sports secretary under Chief Minister Pervez Khattak. The Chairman of the PTI has tourism development as its top priority and develops a fondness for the “can do” attitude of Azam Khan.
Azam Khan was in class 21 when Imran Khan chose him as his main secretary. Many public servants were critical of the choice, citing Azam Khan’s lack of experience in the federal government. But Azam Khan covered the gap by gaining absolute trust from the prime minister.
Known as an unreasonable officer, very vocal in expressing his views in official meetings, even cabinet sessions, Azam Khan is known as a person who likes and dislikes. He takes care of his CSS batch friends and the example cited by retired civil servants is that twelve of them are currently federal secretaries.
Azam Khan found himself in difficult waters when he was summoned by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Jabba Night investigation, which still hangs over his head and many politicians and other officials.
Considering the strength and influence he had on official matters and the belief that the Prime Minister was within him, Azam Khan had made many enemies in the ruling party and bureaucratic circle. Critics such as Tareen accuse him of misdirection and misinformation of Imran Khan, some accusing him of interfering in KP’s political and administrative affairs while others associate the lack of delivery and government performance with a lack of experience and arrogant attitude.
The strong bureaucratic position of the chief secretary is also known as the “eye and ear” and “prime minister” prime minister in official circles. This is the office most aspired to in the civil service, and the prime ministers always appoint their most trusted bureaucrats.