Skeletons in the Cabinet: A reshuffle that makes no sense

Shah Mahmood Qureshi was one of the few ministers who actually knew what he was doing - why was he removed?

Sadaf Khan February 13, 2011
After almost three years of unprecedented failures, the government finally overhauled the Cabinet this week.

Or has it?

The new and improved ‘small’ cabinet includes  a lot of old faces but there have been plenty of surprises - and they have been shockers.

Ministry for Information and Broadcasting

Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, of heera mandi attack fame, who is often called to talk shows when a little ghunda element is needed has been given the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. Dr Awan is now responsible for ‘handling’ the media, and tactfully explaining the government’s policies and defending it's mistakes.

From now on, after every single cabinet briefing, we’ll see Dr Awan taking the stage. I have a sneaking suspicion that the leader has been given this portfolio simply to avoid the burden of the inevitable backlash of the government's decisions. After all, who better than someone like Dr Awan to stand her ground, and mollify the poisonous arrows of criticism?

She has an imposing personality and a booming voice, that is loud enough to be heard over any number or screaming journalists. So, instead of criticising the government for choosing someone who is not exactly known for her tact, perhaps we should applaud them for choosing someone who has the power to suppress any incoming attacks.

Ministry for Foreign Affairs

The second surprise has been devastating. The disappearance of former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi. I admit that I have a personal bias towards the peer-turned-politician (my husband has often accused me of having a crush on him) but who else can look equally charming as an educated leader and a peer in a huge pagri blessing mureeds! No wonder the power of his charismatic personality extended to the formidable Ms Clinton.

Apart from his charm, Shah Mehmood Qureshi was perhaps the only minister whose ministry was not failing miserably. Relations with the United States, our neighbors and the rest of the world have been improving. While relations with India seem to be stuck, who can really blame our ministry?

Choosing to overlook the minister is like letting go of a Draw 4 card in a crucial UNO game. According to reports the core reason for dropping Mr Qureshi was the Raymond Davis issue but how does the government hope to soothe the United States without the help of a minister who has a personal relationship with American leadership?

Who makes these decisions?

Of course, when the good eggs were dropped, it shouldn’t be any surprise that the bad eggs have been retained.

Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, the Minister for Railways has retained his precious portfolio. Perhaps the government has not removed him simply as a token of appreciation for the worst run operation in the history of Pakistan Railways. Extreme performances have to be applauded after all, no?

The one change that has left me grinning is the kicking of Raja Pervez Ashraf. His disappearance is not likely to improve the power crisis but atleast we would be spared of his infuriating idiotic speeches.

His ministry is now being handled by Prime Minister Gilani himself, who is currently responsible for eight ministries in addition to the premiership. But considering the way things are, I’m sure there would be no extra workload for Mr Gillani, after all, be it Water and Power or Housing and Works - nothing has been done for the last three years and that seriously isn’t about to change now.
Sadaf Khan A broadcast journalist based in Islamabad who was formerly associated with Geo News and Dunya News. She blogs at
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Zarmeena | 13 years ago | Reply I agree with Parvez. The way you are exalting Mr.Qureshi by merely calling him as your big crush- give us a break lady ! ! ! We don't know enough about the internal politics anyways- we have no clue as to what compelled Mr.Qureshi to resign. His speech rather potrayed his traumatized mindset along with lunatic poetry.His declare of Raymond Davis not having immunity on legal grounds was an absurd act, resulting an overall unrest among masses and infamming the already strained ties with US. Mr.Qureshi thought perhaps our ppl haven't had enough of Mr.Raymond case so why not flare them even more and why not derive some respect out of this sheer sensitive issue.If he was a sane gentleman, he could have resigned quietly without creating a havoc. To author, In order to convince others please try offering enough to validate your point of view.Don't impose your blatant personal judgement without enough proof on others.
Ali | 13 years ago | Reply An interesting fact that I learnt about Mr Qureshi that has always left a bitter ater taste in my mouth is that despite being in a such a powerful poistion his constituents in Multan are amonst the least literate people in Pakistan which really takes some doing!! He is the descendant of a feudal elite family with a lot of wealth, but he does not posess the energy or will to help change such an appalling situation. This is typical of Pakistan, the feudal elites are happy to see the masses suffer and stay illiterate, that way they can't challene the status quo.
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