ISLAMABAD: Secretary of Power Division Yousuf Naseem Khokhar on Friday took leave from office till the 31 May - the last day in the tenure of the incumbent government - soon after a major power crisis hit the country.

On May 16, power supply across Punjab, KP and AJ&K remained suspended for several hours which earned embarrassment for the incumbent government as its main election 2018 slogan was zero electricity load shedding.

A committee has been constituted under the chairmanship of Additional Secretary Power, Waseem Mukhtar to investigate the reasons for the two consecutive blackouts. The massive breakdown indicates that the transmission system is unreliable.

Insiders in Power Division claim that relations between Minister for Power Division Awais Leghari and Secretary Power Division Yousuf Naseem Khokhar have been strained for the past few months due to differences on some policy issues and other administrative matters.

Replacement of Managing Director Pepco was one of the reasons for differences between the Minister and the Secretary. “Secretary was not comfortable with the working environment in the Ministry,” said a senior official on condition of anonymity.

The viewpoints of the Minister and Secretary differed on many issues; however, the officials added that “it is not necessary that the working relationship of Minister and Secretary be ideal all the time, but each one has to run affairs in accordance with the rules of business.”

The officials claimed that most of the time, when the Minister was in office, the Secretary preferred to leave office and sat in the office of PHPL situated in Overseas Pakistanis Foundation (OPF) building.

However, when the Minister began sitting in PHPL building the Secretary opted to sit in Nespak building and sometimes went to Lahore to avoid facing the Minister, the official further claimed.

“The top officials of Power Division, who are close to both the Minister and Secretary, were aware of strained relations between them,” the sources added.

Unconfirmed reports suggest that the widespread power breakdown further fueled conflict between the two men and the Secretary opted to go on leave till the end of term of the Minister.

There are reports that the Minister involves himself in minor issues, which is not his domain, sources added.

When contacted, Secretary Power confirmed that he applied for a two-week leave a day before which Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbsi has approved.

A number of other Secretaries have also gone on leave due to reported differences with their Ministers, sources further disclosed.