PML-N appointees still call the shots

Calls for removing Marvi Memon, Abid Waheed Sheikh grow


Sardar Sikander June 22, 2018
PHOTO: MUDASSAR RAJA/EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: The caretaker set-up may have reshuffled some important government positions but the appointments made by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led federal government remain unaffected.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf tendered his resignation whereas the caretaker government in Punjab removed Advocate General Asma Hamid from her official position.

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Ausaf was appointed by deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif while Hamid was appointed by ex-chief minister Punjab Shehbaz Sharif.

On the other hand, senior PML-N leader and former MNA Marvi Memon, who was appointed as Benazir Income Support Programme Chairperson and another PML-N loyalist Barrister Abid Waheed Sheikh, who was appointed as Managing Director of Pakistan Bait-ul-Mal by former PM Sharif, continue to hold these positions despite their declared affiliation with the N-League.

Before the expiry of the PML-N’s government on May 31, all members of the PML-N who were holding important positions in the government had tendered resignations except the BISP chairperson and the PBM managing director.

Former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi left it to the caretaker government to make a decision about their official positions instead of removing the two government functionaries.

Since then, the mainstream political forces, including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and the Pakistan People’s Party have demanded the removal of the BISP chairperson and the PBM managing director but the Election Commission of Pakistan and the caretaker federal government are yet to respond.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, former ECP secretary Kanwar Dilshad said heads of the BISP and the PBM should have been removed immediately after the caretaker set-up took charge.

“The organisations like the BISP and the PBM have funds of millions of rupees at their disposal that can be misused in the name of helping out the poor and needy to benefit a political party in general polls.

“I am surprised how the presence of two declared members of PML-N can skip the attention of the ECP and the caretaker government? It’s high time both the personalities should be removed from their official portfolios as soon as possible.”

The former secretary said local bodies across the country need to be formally suspended from functioning till the general elections take place.

“This is a standard practice. The local governments are suspended before every general election. Back in 2008, I was the ECP secretary and my office issued a notification to suspend the local governments across the country till the conduct of general polls. This is vital for free and fair polls. It should be done immediately this time too.”

The federal government has reshuffled top bureaucrats, including chief secretaries and inspectors general of police.

However, PTI Chairman Imran Khan has demanded a thorough reshuffle in the bureaucracy throughout the country for free and fair polls.

Dilshad said reshuffling the bureaucracy should not be the sole focus of the ECP and caretaker government.

“Powerful people at the BISP, the PBM and related organisations should also be sent packing and local governments should not be allowed to function till the general polls are held.”

A few days back, senior PTI leader Azam Swati said that his party had serious reservations against all such persons who had potential of influencing the upcoming elections.

He said removing all politically-connected persons from key government posts was the responsibility of the ECP.

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Before that, PPP stalwart Dr Nafisa Shah wrote a letter to Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Sardar Muhammad Raza, pointing out that Marvi Memon had not resigned from her post and still presiding over the BISP meetings and overseeing disbursals.

“A PML-N supporter … continues to hold the office of the (BISP) chairperson, amounting to election engineering and pre-poll rigging. Marvi Memon (must) be asked to resign and a senior bureaucrat or board member (must) officiate (in her place) until the formation of the new government,” the letter stated.

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