Senior lawyer Irfan Qadir on Wednesday was appointed as Special Assistant to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
According to details, the position of Qadir will be equal to that of a federal minister. A notification in this regard has also been issued.
Earlier this month, the PML-N-led coalition government’s federal cabinet swelled to 70 members after PM Shehbaz appointed eight more special assistants for himself apparently in an attempt to keep the allies in good humour at state’s expense.
At a time when the economy is going downhill, petroleum prices and inflation are record high and the country is seeking global aid in the wake of torrential rains and flash floods causing unprecedented devastation, the decision to appoint eight new SAPMs drew criticism from different quarters.
Read more: Federal cabinet swells to 70 members
“It is a necessary evil in parliamentary systems, especially, when governments are based on coalition,” the president of Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, said.
The PILDAT president, who regularly writes on the political, legislative and electoral affairs of the country, stated in one of his pieces that the 18th Amendment put a cap on the size of the cabinet, saying Article 92 of the Constitution requires that the number of ministers and ministers of state in the federal cabinet should not exceed 11 per cent of the total membership of parliament.
Since parliament comprises two houses — the National Assembly comprising 342 members and the Senate consisting of 104 members or a combined strength of 446 — the 11 per cent comes to 49, so the total cabinet size should not exceed this number.
“The constitution fixed an upper limit of number of ministers,” Mehboob shared with The Express Tribune, adding “anything less than that is legal but not necessarily the best in these times of bad economy.”
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