Among the various challenges facing Prime Minister Imran Khan, finding the right man for the right job is one – and quite serious at that. Be it the Centre or the country’s biggest province, Punjab, search for a right combination continues more than two and a half years into the government tenure. So much so that key ministries and departments – like the federal finance ministry, the FBR, and the police in the capital city and Punjab – have undergone a change at the helm no less than half a dozen times. “Out goes a bad professional, and in comes worse” has been the story so far.
And here we go – yet again. The Prime Minister has shuffled his ministerial cabinet for a fifth time. By the way, the fourth one had come just about four months back. Most notable in the PM’s new team is the addition of Shaukat Tarin as federal minister for finance and revenue. Tarin replaces Hammad Azhar, who could barely survive for 18 days on the post. Thought of as a banking wizard, Tarin was already a member of the PM’s Economic Advisory Council and has served as adviser to the PM on finance during the PPP’s last tenure. Tarin is the third full-fledged finance minister, notwithstanding Azhar, who was more of a stop-gap arrangement coming in the wake of the removal of Dr Hafeez Shaikh. Let’s see if Tarin will be able to do the job that Shaikh and Asad Umar failed to do.
Azhar, meanwhile, has been given the energy portfolio, earlier held by Omar Ayub who will now serve as minister for economic affairs. Azhar has had also to forgo the charge of Industries and Production, which he was holding additionally, for Khusro Bakhtiar. Azhar, the poor chap, has once been the revenue minister also – again very briefly. These shakeups have, therefore, not allowed a young and educated Azhar to settle down in one role.
Also turning out to be a big challenge is the information ministry – where performance does not even involve carrying out ‘missions impossible’ like bolstering state coffers and stopping tax evasion, or blocking political marches and encountering habitual criminals and goons to maintain peace. The ministry has witnessed several changes at its top. The most recent, a fourth, comes in the shape of Fawad Chaudhry. Interestingly, Fawad was the first pick for the information ministry job which, however, only lasted till April 2019 when he was moved to the ministry of science and technology. The buck was then passed on to Firdous Ashiq Awan and then to Shibli Faraz and now back to Fawad.
Frankly speaking, Faraz was literally struggling in the role of defending the government in official capacity for lacking temperament required for the job as well as eloquence to drive the point home. Fawad, in contrast, is knowledgeable, tactful, hardworking and go-getter, besides being gifted with communication skills to perform the job. He, however, sometimes tries to trivialise important issues when has nothing to offer in defence. With nothing going right for the government currently, there can be no tougher time to take charge of the information ministry, and there is no better choice than Fawad in the PTI right now.
Let’s wait and see if the Prime Minister has finally found the right team-combination – one that could at least earn him what we call a consolation prize.