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Wednesday July 24, 2024

Farewell interim cabinet meeting ends on bitter note as CM, health minister ‘exchange heated arguments’

By Our Correspondent
February 27, 2024
(File photo) Caretaker CM Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar accompanied by the Health Minister Dr Saad Khalid Niaz (C) checks medicine stock and their entries in the record at Basic Health Unit, Jumma Himayti Goth, Malir on October 10, 2023. — Facebook/Sindh Chief Minister House
(File photo) Caretaker CM Justice (retd) Maqbool Baqar accompanied by the Health Minister Dr Saad Khalid Niaz (C) checks medicine stock and their entries in the record at Basic Health Unit, Jumma Himayti Goth, Malir on October 10, 2023. — Facebook/Sindh Chief Minister House

The farewell meeting of the interim Sindh cabinet ended on a bitter note on Monday as outgoing Chief Minister Justice (retired) Maqbool Baqar had a heated exchange of arguments with Health Minister Dr Saad Khalid Niaz after the latter alleged that the former didn’t lend any support to him to deliver during the interim regime.

Sources privy to the meeting said the exchange of heated remarks had completely affected the environment of the cabinet meeting. At one point, the rest of the cabinet members had to intervene to save the situation from utter chaos as there was no chance that the cabinet meeting could continue any further trouble-free.

Talking to media persons soon after the farewell meeting, Dr Niaz said he had been threatened with dire consequences by the interim CM towards the end of the cabinet meeting. He said he would consult his lawyers to get advice about adopting the legal course of action against the threat he had received from the CM in the presence of so many people during the meeting. Dr Niaz said the CM had expressed serious displeasure in the cabinet meeting when he had raised the issue that the CM Secretariat had unduly sent letters of poor performance to the two provincial departments included in his portfolio.

He said he had raised the issue that the performance of some 24 other departments should also be discussed in the caretaker regime after the letters had been sent to the two departments on his watch.

Dr Niaz conceded that the departments in question had failed to deliver in his tenure but the main reason was that he hadn’t got any support from the interim CM to improve their functioning.

He informed the media persons that in the last two months of his regime he had completely failed to deliver due to non-cooperation from the health secretary. He said two of the main objectives of his ministerial tenure were the automation of the Health Department and the launching of a health insurance scheme for the people of the province. Still, he said, he had failed to fulfil these tasks due to a sheer lack of cooperation by the CM Secretariat.

Dr Niaz said he had discharged his duties as the interim health minister with utmost honesty and integrity as all the appointments on his watch were completed in a completely meritorious manner after calling the eligible candidates for interviews.

When contacted, the spokesman for the CM said the unpleasant situation had occurred in the cabinet meeting when the provincial health minister had expressed his grievances related to his tenure.

The interim CM advised the health minister that he shouldn’t do such a talk in the meeting as the time for expressing grievances was over and the farewell cabinet meeting should end on a high note, the spokesman said. He completely denied the reports that the situation had escalated to the point of a brawl.

Earlier, a brief statement issued by the CM House said the interim CM told the cabinet that he had done his best in his tenure to serve the province. He was quoted as saying in the cabinet meeting that he had made efforts to improve the working of all provincial departments. He expressed gratitude to all his cabinet colleagues for doing hard work in the interim regime. He also thanked the chief secretary, chairman of the Planning and Development Board, finance secretary, and the inspector general of police for lending support to him during his tenure. Afterwards, the CM along with his cabinet colleagues attended a luncheon reception with the staff of the CM Secretariat.