KARACHI: After the election of the chief minister, the Sindh government appointed seven new faces among 17 cabinet members in the first phase of the process of cabinet appointments on Saturday.
Nine ministers, four advisers and four special assistants started working at their departments soon after notifications were issued for their portfolios. The cabinet members, who took oath at Governor House, visited Mazar-e-Quaid to pay tribute to the founder of the nation.
Seven new faces have been inducted in the cabinet while others are old members. They have been assigned new responsibilities to propel change in the province.
According to a notification issued by the Sindh government, senior minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro, who was earlier working as education minister in former CM Qaim Ali Shah’s cabinet, has been appointed as the minister for food and parliamentary affairs. Jam Mahtab Dahar, who was the health minister in the previous cabinet, has replaced Khuhro. Dr Sikandar Mandhro, who was earlier working as minister for environment, is now the health minister. Meanwhile, former home minister Sohail Anwar Siyal has been given the portfolio of the agriculture department.
Jam Khan Shoro and Makhdoom Jameelul Zaman have retained their old departments – local government and revenue departments, respectively. Zaman, however, succeeded in getting the charge of the relief department, which had been his desire for quite some time. The government now allots a significant budget for relief, keeping in view floods and drought in the province. When part of the previous cabinet, Zaman had threatened to part ways with government when relief department was taken back from him after officials failed to deal with the Thar drought two years ago.
Among the new faces in the cabinet are two MPAs: Sardar Shah and Shamim Mumtaz. Shah, a famous Sindhi writer, has been accommodated in the cabinet with the portfolio of the culture department in place of his father-in-law, MPA Ali Mardan Shah. Before him, the culture department was being served by Sharmila Farooqi.
Female MPA Mumtaz, who hails from Karachi, has served as PPP councillor in former military dictator General Musharraf’s tenure. She has now been given the social welfare department.
Meanwhile, Mukesh Kumar Chawla has been appointed as the excise and taxation minister in Gianchand Esrani’s stead.
Paving way for Qaim Ali Shah?
It surprised many when Senator Saeed Ghani was made adviser to the CM on labour. Ghani, a soft-spoken and hard worker who often appears on TV to defend party policies, started grass-roots politics in local bodies in 2002 and rose to the position of PPP parliamentary leader in the Senate. He belongs to Karachi and his father, Usman Ghani Khaskheli, was a renowned trade union leader and PPP jiyala, who was assassinated in the late 1990s in Karachi. There are reports that Ghani will tender his resignation from the Senate, paving way for the outgoing chief minister, Qaim Ali Shah, to replace him.
The information department has once again been allotted to Maula Bux Chandio, a party jiyala and close friend of PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari.
Asghar Junejo, who recently lost the provincial assembly seat due to the allegation of rigging, has been given the mines and mineral department. Meanwhile, former law advisor Barrister Murtaza Wahab, who is the son of late PPP stalwart Fouzia Wahab, has not only regained his department, but the portfolio of the anti-corruption department has also been given to him.
MPA Erum Khalid, daughter-in-law of PPP leader Professor ND Khan, has been appointed as special assistant to CM on women rights. Dr Khatu Mal Jewan, who has been elected on reserved seat for minorities and is a scheduled caste Hindu from Thar, has been given the department of minorities’ affairs. Dr Sikandar Shoro of Jamshoro district has been appointed as the special assistant for information technology while MPA Syed Ghulam Shah Jilani of Dadu is now the special assistant of the zakat and auqat department.
The government has yet to make a decision regarding important portfolios, including home, finance, irrigation, works and services and planning and development. There are reports that Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah is interested in retaining the home, finance and planning departments while the rest will be allotted in the second phase.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 31st, 2016.