ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan appointed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senator Shibli Faraz as the new information minister and Lt-Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa as his special assistant on information and broadcasting, removing Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan from the post with immediate effect.
“The Prime Minister has been pleased to remove Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan from the office of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, with immediate effect,” read a notification issued by the cabinet division.
Through another notification, the prime minister appointed “Lt. General (Rtd) Asim Saleem Bajwa as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, in honorary capacity, with immediate effect”.
Earlier, Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry, who was the first information minister of the PTI government, broke the news of the latest cabinet change. He said the both Faraz and Bajwa “will make a great team”.
“Prime Minister can better tell the real reasons behind the move but PTI workers are happy that an old party face has been made the information minister,” Chaudhry told The Express Tribune. “Making Shibli Faraz as the information minister will send a good message to party workers,” he added.
“Media and communication strategy was in doldrums for a while now and the overall media strategy was not on the right track,” he continued. “Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa knows the media like the back of his hand and his experience as the ISPR’s spokesperson would help in image building.”
During his stint as the information minister, Chaudhry said that he brought the biggest reforms in the state-run Pakistan Television that Dr Firdous had stopped. He hopped that those reforms in PTV’ would be revived by the new team.
Responding to a question if Firdous would be given any other position, he said he was unaware about any such development. Commenting on a news, suggesting that Firdous misused her authority as the special assistant, he said that “it was in bad taste”.
Commenting on the news pertaining to amendments to the 18th Constitutional Amendment, Chaudhry said that it was third or fourth time that such a discussion had erupted, adding that no changes could come unless the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lend support.
Instead he suggested “details of coordination, execution of policies, Higher Education Commission and health standards should be discussed”.
While congratulating Faraz on becoming information minister, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari tweeted that he was “an old PTI member and a dignified man with gravitas. Face of PTI.” In another tweet, former Pakistan ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi said the changes were a “good move by the government”.
وزیراعظم @ImranKhanPTI کا شکریہ۔انہوں نے مجھ پر اعتماد کیا۔1 سال کے عرصے میں اپنی بھرپور صلاحیتوں سے فرائض سر انجام دینے کی کوشش کی۔ PM کا استحقاق ہے کہ ٹیم کے کس کھلاڑی کو کونسے بیٹنگ آرڈر یا کونسی فیلڈ پوزیشن پر کھلانا ہے۔میں ان کے فیصلے کا احترام کرتی ہوں۔— Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan (@Dr_FirdousAwan) April 27, 2020
Meanwhile, Firdous reacted to the decision, saying that she performed her duties to the best to her abilities in over a period of one year. She was of the view that the Prime Minister has right to decide which “player of the team would play at what batting order”.
“I respect the decision,” she tweeted. She denied the news items alleging that she had misused the authority, adding that she would continue working as a political worker under Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Dr Firdous, a former PPP stalwart who joined the PTI in May 2017, was made special assistant in April 2019, replaced Fawad Chaudhry. Faraz is currently serving as the Leader of the House in the Senate while Bajwa, a former director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations from 2012 to 2016. Gen Bajwa had also served as the commander of the Southern Command before his retirement.