Who is behind Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan’s removal?

Azam Khan, principal secretary to the prime minister, is in the eye of the storm after reportedly de-notifying Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan. Was Dr. Awan taking a bribe in her office? Who asked Azam Khan to remove Dr. Awan? Read this story to understand who is Azam Khan?

Principal Secretary to PM

Former special assistant to the prime minister on information and broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan on Sunday challenged anchorperson Hamid Mir to prove the allegations of corruption and misuse of power against her. Dr.Awan was unceremoniously removed from the office after she reportedly refused to resign. Sources claim that Azam Khan, Principal Secretary to PM, is behind her removal.

Taking to Twitter, she challenged the senior journalist to prove that she had misused her power while approving appointments in Press Information Department (PID). “Hamid Mir sahib, your journalism experience is more than my political experience. Do not leave this matter here. Show me the domicile of my constituency among the appointments I did in PID. If you cannot do this, then you have to admit that Maulana Tariq Jameel was telling the truth. Sach jaan kar geo [know the truth and live],” she tweeted.

On Friday, Dr Firdous had denied the allegations of corruption and misuse of power during her time as the PM’s aide. Speaking to a local news outlet, she had said that how could she take 10 per cent commission while giving advertisements when no such advertisements were given to the media during her tenure. She had said that the files related to her ministry were never shown to her, but rather they were taken to Prime Minister Imran Khan directly by the secretary for six months.

Read More: Insensitive Remarks on Earthquake: Twitter schools PTI’s Firdous Ashiq Awan

“A case pertaining to an advertisement company who I supposedly gave money to, they got through to me after six months of trying even then they remain unpaid,” she had claimed.

“Multiple pseudo-information ministers”

Speaking in a program of a private news channel, Firdous Ashiq Awan said that she was hopeful that the premier’s new team will live up to his expectations. Dr.Firdous said the prime minister is well within his rights to choose the cabinet he wants, the Ministry of Information is a pivotal office and she wished Shibli Faraz the best.

Dr.Firdous said that during her tenure there were multiple pseudo-information ministers and were doing her job for her and may have hindered her progress at a few instances or confused the narrative she wanted to present as a government representative.

She also said that the premier to her knowledge would also not like bureaucracy and politicians trading blows or leveraging blames. She said that leakage of stories had also become a point of concern during her tenure when news made its way into the media through various channels rather than the official, designated channel of the government spokesperson.

Read More: You don’t Deliver, You don’t Stay: PM Khan reshuffles his Cabinet again

Firdous Ashiq Awan also said that there were many in the party who supported her and her efforts, whereas some also wanted and expected more from her. She said that she gave the office her best, “There was infighting in the Ministry of Information for the past three months, some people appointed to the office were not required, Prime Minister Imran Khan took a decision on Fawad Chaudhry after eight months and I too was sidelined after a year.”

PM’s Principal Secretary behind Awan’s removal?

Sources close to the prime minister office told GVS that some ministers and spokespersons have disputes with Azam Khan, Principal Secretary to PM. Ms.Awan also was not comfortable being dictated by the secretary who was reportedly looking over her work.

The Principal Secretary to PM has recently been in the eye of the storm. Jahangir Khan Tareen (JKT) acknowledged that he has a long-running conflict with Azam Khan, PM Imran’s principal secretary. “When we came into power, I had a different vision on how to govern the country. He (Azam Khan) has a different one. I had told Azam Khan that the government’s job was not to enact incremental change but to transform the entire country,” Tareen said.

“Azam Khan disagrees with my vision for the country because he realizes that enacting a transformative agenda would leave him powerless. I have always been against bureaucratic hurdles,” Tareen explained, alleging that Azam Khan was behind the FIA investigation against him.

Read More: Imran Khan weighs in on bureaucrat protests

Shehzad Arbab, former KP chief secretary, who has been an adviser to the prime minister on the establishment for bureaucratic placements, also pointed a finger at Principal Secretary to PM, when he was unceremoniously removed from the position. A couple of days later, he was appointed special assistant to the premier on the establishment with the status of a federal minister. He publically accused Azam Khan of this faux pas.

Azam Khan belongs to the 1990 batch of Central Superior Services (CSS). He topped the 17th Common CSS exam in the whole of Pakistan. After having his schooling at Burn Hall Abbottabad, a missionary boarding school very popular with the landed aristocracy of KP. He did his Masters in International Relations from Quaid-e-Azam University Islamabad. Having secured the first position in the nationwide competition, he was allocated to the District Management Group (DMG).

Azam Khan got into good books of Imran Khan when he worked as a tourism and sports secretary under Chief Minister Pervez Khattak. The PTI chairman has developed tourism as his top priority and developed a liking for Azam Khan’s ‘can do’ attitude.

Khan’s critics accuse him of misguiding and ill-advising Imran Khan, some allege interference in political and administrative affairs of KP by him while others attribute the lack of delivery and performance of the government to his inexperience and haughty attitude.

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