The Awami National Party (ANP) has submitted an adjournment motion against the provincial government for inducting 32 new parliamentary secretaries. By virtue of this move, all Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MPAs now have a government position.
On Tuesday, Chief Minister (CM) Pervez Khattak appointed two special assistants and 32 MPAs as parliamentary secretaries, insisting they were only there to “represent different government departments in case of absence of concerned ministers during assembly sessions.”
“The provincial government has violated the Constitution by inducting these secretaries. Under the 18th Amendment, the cabinet cannot exceed 11% of the total count of the house,” said ANP parliamentary leader Sardar Hussain Babak. He was addressing the media after submitting the adjournment motion at the K-P Assembly Secretariat on Wednesday.
The government, however, insists that the parliamentary secretaries are not part of the cabinet and that the decision comes under the CM’s ambit.
Babak alleged the provincial government has taken to adjusting its strength through backdoor channels as the Constitution does not allow for “an army of ministers, special advisors and parliamentary secretaries.”
The ANP will soon approach the Peshawar High Court against the provincial government’s decision, stated the ANP leader.
Lawyers too, have decided to challenge the government’s decision. “The PTI-led government’s decision is in violation of the Constitution and we will challenge this in court,” said lawyer Latif Afridi.
Besides the 32 parliamentary secretaries, the government also had 24 District Development Committee chairmen, seven special assistants, six advisors to the chief minister, two senior ministers, one speaker and one deputy speaker.
There were rumours that the PTI government may be toppled down. Qaumi Watan Party, who is a coalition partner of the PML-N at the centre, was allegedly trying to oust the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government with the help of Maulana Fazal Rehman’s Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam. PTI chief Imran Khan had also said the government could dissolve if pushed to the wall.
PTI MPAs who were not given a government position intended to make a forward bloc in the assembly. There were rumours that these MPAs would bring about a no-confidence motion in the assembly against their own chief minister and topple the government.
It was after these rumours surfaced that the CM announced to appoint the parliamentary secretaries. These secretaries will have the authority to both assist and interfere in the ministries’ affairs.
PTI MPA and newly-inducted parliamentary secretary Mohammad Arif defended his party’s move. “Every MPA who is elected by the people is expected by the voters to work for them. If he is neglected by his own government then he will be unhappy and this is why the PTI has taken a bold step and appointed 32 parliamentary secretaries. This way an MPA will be able to meet the expectations of the voters.”
Published in The Express Tribune, September 5th, 2013.