Once berated for appointing excessive secretaries and assistants to allegedly appease lawmakers, the ruling party is once again under fire for expanding the provincial cabinet which political opponents see as unnecessary.
After Friday’s appointments and reshuffling, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa cabinet now includes two senior ministers, five advisers and six special assistants to the chief minister. There are also more parliamentary secretaries.
According to Awami National Party’s (ANP) senior leader Mian Itifkhar Hussain, the reshuffle is an attempt to cover up corruption in the government ranks. He said some time ago, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf had dismissed Qaumi Watan Party’s ministers blaming them of corruption. However, reports of corruption in their own party were brushed under the carpet, he claimed. Hussain added that PTI had ignored corruption to save its government. It is ironic, said Hussain, that those accusing others of corruption had succumbed to protecting corruption.
ANP’s senior leader criticized the provincial government’s decision and said they were violating the 18th amendment by increasing the size of the government.
The cabinet now has as many people as it did before the PTI had a falling out with QWP in November last year.
The cabinet, then, had 14 members including two senior ministers. After the fallout with QWP, Israrullah Gandapur’s death and PTI’s Yousaf Ayub’s disqualification, this number went down to nine.
The number went up to 14 again on Friday when Shahram Khan Taraki was given the charge of the health department and made senior minister. Two advisers and two special assistants were elevated to ministerial portfolios, while three new advisers and four special assistants were also added to the cabinet.
The PTI has managed to get the lion’s share in the reshuffle – this includes four ministers, three advisers and four special assistants.
Awami Jamhoori Ittehad Pakistan scored a post of senior minister and special assistant. The Jamaat-e-Islami, however, got nothing.
According to Hussain, parliamentary secretaries are given perks and privileges including salary, house rent and car which is equal to that of a minister. He added that on one hand the government had failed to start development works in the province and on the other they were costing the provincial exchequer with these appointments.
Shiraz Paracha, media adviser to the K-P chief minister, said these appointments were in accordance with the law. He added that the chief minister had the authority to reshuffle the cabinet and government.
He explained that giving ministerial slots to competent people increased the efficiency of the government and cabinet.
The new blood
The cabinet now has Mian Jamsheduddin and Qalandar Lodhi who were previously serving as advisers, while Ziaullah Afridi and Mushtaq Ghani were special assistants. Ikramullah Khan Gandapur has made his way to the provincial assembly on a seat which became vacant after the death of K-P’s law minster Israullah Khan Gandapur.
The new advisers include Amjad Afridi and Shakil Ahmed who were previously serving as special assistants, while Akbar Ayub, brother of disqualified minister Yousaf Ayub has also been given the slot of an adviser.
Arif Yousaf, Ishtiaq Urmar, Abdul Munim and Muhibullah are newly elevated special assistants. According to figures available at the K-P assembly website, the government had previously appointed 13 parliamentary secretaries and after elevation of Arif Yousaf and Muhibullah Khan as adviser and special secretary, it is likely that government will go for another adjustment in the coming days.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 30th, 2014.