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Old wine in new cabinet

"The Shehbaz Sharif government has hardly one year to perform, so it is relying much on experienced hands. Moreover, the prime minister has to take along the coalition partners, so again his own choice in the cabinet is limited"

The cabinet of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has finally taken over their offices. There are no unexpected, no new rising stars on the long list of the ministers. Perhaps Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif does not want to risk new faces, of which a few may become Trojan horses, as was former chief minister Usman Buzdar in the Imran Khan’s government. Moreover, the Shehbaz Sharif government has hardly one year to perform, so it is relying much on experienced hands. Moreover, the prime minister has to take along the coalition partners, so again his own choice in the cabinet is limited.

As per the share, the Pakistan Muslim League-N got 14 offices, followed by the Pakistan People’s Party’s 12 (nine federal ministers, two state ministers and one adviser to the prime minister), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl four, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan two, and Jamhoori Wattan Party and Balochistan Awami Party one each.

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The new cabinet consists of Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Sanaullah, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Rana Tanveer Hussain, Khurram Dastgir Khan, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Miftah Ismail, Mian Javed Latif, Riaz Hussain Pirzada, Murtaza Javed Abbasi, Azam Nazeer Tarar, Syed Khurshid Ahmad Shah, Syed Naveed Qamar, Sherry Rehman, Abdul Qadir Patel, Shazia Marri, Syed Murtaza Mahmood, Sajid Hussain Toori, Ahsanur Rehman Mazari, Abid Hussain, Asad Mahmood, Abdul Wassey, Mufti Abdul Shakoor, Muhammad Talha Mahmood, Syed Aminul Haq, Syed Faisal Ali Sabzwari, Muhammad Israr Tareen, Nawabzada Shahzain Bugti and Tariq Bashir Cheema. The state ministers are Dr. Aisha Ghaus Pasha, Hina Rabbani Khar and Abdul Rehman Kanju, while prime minister’s advisers are Miftah Ismail, Amir Muqam and Qamar Zaman Kaira. Tariq Bashir Cheema may be regarded as a member of the PML-Q’s breakaway faction.

A close look at the list reveals that the PML-N nominees are from the central and north Punjab, whereas the PPP has concentrated on Sindh. South Punjab has been given only two federal ministries and as many state ministries.

The cabinet is without any representative of minorities.

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Also, Sardar Akhtar Mengal of the Balochistan National Party has refused to join the cabinet. It is being said PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has delayed his oath until Mohsin Dawar is also included in the cabinet. Similarly, the Awami National Party of Asfandyar Wali failed to find a berth in the cabinet.

Anyhow, the country has been without a cabinet for a good 10 days, giving credence to the rumors of a rift among the coalition partners and giving a rise to chaos and confusion.

The new cabinet must give a message of hope, stability and cohesion about the government. It faces a sea of issues of governance and political instability.

The talk of the town, however, is the indecisive Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. The media was predicting him the successor to Shah Mahmood Qureshi. Some detractors say that Bilawal, being the chairman of a party, should not be the part of the Shehbaz Sharif cabinet. The other circle, however, says that he being the grandson of the Pakistan’s best foreign minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, and the son of Benazir Bhutto, would have been a best choice for the office, and would soon rise to international recognition.

On the domestic front, all eyes are on Rana Sanaullah, the interior minister. Being a straightforward person, Rana Sanaullah is likely to bring about positive changes to the most important ministry.

Let us give a fortnight to the new cabinet to feel at home in their ministries and start delivering.

Until then, we should all be supportive of the government.

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