In a surprising development, the Sindh government appointed Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MPA Sharjeel Inam Memon as minister for information and archives on Wednesday.
Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan administered the oath to Memon at Governor House. Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah and other cabinet members of the provincial government were also present on the occasion.
Memon, who belongs to Hyderabad district, had contested the by-elections from PS-62 Tharparkar and is said to be a close aide of Sindh Home Minister Dr Zulfiqar Mirza. Recently, he was summoned by the Supreme Court (SC) to explain his alleged remark against the SC verdict in the case of Deedar Hussain Shah, former chairman of the National Accountability Bureau.
Memon, who is a civil engineer, also runs the PPP media cell in Clifton. When Shazia Marri was removed from the information minister’s post, Memon was the aspiring candidate hoping to take her place.
However, Jameel Soomro was appointed instead. Although Soomro was appointed as an adviser on information to the chief minister, he was given the status of a minister. Things did not stay the same for long, and soon Sharmila Farooqui was given charge as adviser on information. Then came the 18th Amendment, which required that the number of advisers in the Sindh government be chopped down from 17 to five. Farooqui, along with several others, was shown the door. Since then, the post had been vacant.
To make sure that the government could still correspond with the media, Taj Haider was appointed as media coordinator.
Sources said that the government has decided on reshuffling the cabinet and further decisions will be made public soon.
Too many shifts
The information portfolio has had a turbulent three years, in which it exchanged hands at least four times.
Soomro was appointed by Qaim Ali Shah in place of Shazia Marri. Despite her political credentials, she failed to keep her high-profile job and was abruptly removed under a cloud of various allegations.
Her replacement, Soomro, did not stick around for long either. There were complaints that he could not keep the media happy, that he was handing out advertisements to favourites and then, the last straw was when Soomro failed to ensure prominent publicity for the president during his long stays in Karachi.
On one occasion President Zardari had criticised all Sindh cabinet ministers but had appreciated Shazia Marri and Sharmila Farooqi, saying that these two “are very active and know very well how to fight the party case. I watch them on television.”
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2011.
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