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January 15, 2020

KP cabinet reshuffle was an admission that some ministers weren’t performing


January 15, 2020

PESHAWAR: A major reshuffle and expansion carried out by Chief Minister Mahmood Khan in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet recently was an admission that some of the ministers weren’t up the mark and needed to be changed.

The reshuffle was in the offing since long. The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was contemplating bringing changes in the KP cabinet based on the performance of the ministers and advisors. However, it was finding it difficult to accomplish the task as dropping ministers wasn’t easy and inducting new ones risked triggering differences in the PTI.

One day before the reshuffle, the chief minister had warned that strict action would be taken against the ministers and advisors who fail to attend office and stay away from provincial assembly sessions.

For the first time, two newly elected MPAs from ex-Fata, now known as merged districts, have been accommodated in the KP cabinet. They include Mohammad IqbalWazir, the PTI lawmaker from North Waziristan, who has been appointed minister for relief. He had won from a difficult constituency where the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) enjoyed solid support and the JUI-F too had proven vote-bank.

Another lawmaker from the erstwhile Fata, Syed Ghazi Ghazan Jamal, was made the advisor on excise and taxation. He was elected as an independent MPA from Orakzai district and later joined the PTI. He has been rewarded for joining the PTI and also because his influential father, Dr Ghazi Gulab Jamal, has been elected MNA from Orakzai a number of times.

Shahram Khan Tarakai, until now the minister for local government, has been made minister for health. He had served as health minister during the PTI’s previous stint in power in KP from 2013-2018, though his performance left a lot to be desired. He would have to do better as health is a difficult portfolio due to the strong influence that the associations of doctors and other health workers wield. Shahram Khan Tarakai, who belongs to Swabi, has replaced DrHishamInamullah Khan, who as the health minister found it difficult to tackle the crisis in the health sector as a result of a long strike by doctors and other health department employeesand was unable to push the proposed reforms. DrHishamInamullah, who is a dental surgeon and was elected MPA from LakkiMarwat, has now been given the insignificant portfolio of social welfare. He would no longer be in the limelight as health was a highly visible and important portfolio.

The case of Akbar Ayub, the lawmaker from Haripur and grandson of late President Ayub Khan, is interesting. He had secured the prized portfolio of communication and works after lot of effort when the PTI came into power for the second time in the province in the July 2018 general election. Though he has lost the communication and works portfolio, he has got the important portfolio of education despite the fact that he is just a matriculate. He will look after elementary education only.

Akbar Ayub had been quoted as saying that education doesn’t matter while experience is important and he has enough of that. KP Information Minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai also defended his selection by arguing that he has a wealth of experience and the government wanted to benefit from that.

DrAmjad Ali from Swat who was minister for mines and minerals has now been assigned the ministry of housing. He had found his earlier portfolio challenging.

Shah Muhammad, the PTI MPA from Bannu who was unhappy after failing to land a berth in the cabinet following the 2018 general election, has now been accommodated as minister for transport. At the time he was offered to become an advisor or special assistant, but he wanted to be made a minister. He has got his wish though his portfolio isn’t important.

ZiaullahBangash, the lawmaker from Kohatwho was the advisor to the chief minister on education, has now been made minister for information technology. He has won his assembly seat for the second time, but wasn’t considered for a berth in the cabinet after the 2013 general election. Running information technology would be easier than education, which is the biggest employer among all the departments.

The four new advisors to the chief minister includeNowshera lawmaker KhalilurRehman, who was ignored after the 2013 election when Pervez Khattak, also from Nowshera, was the chief minister. He has nowbeen made advisor for higher education. ArifAhmedzai from Charsadda, also ignored in the past despite winning his seat, has been appointed advisor on mines and minerals, which is a prized portfolio.

Kamran Bangash who was earlier an advisor on information technology would now advice the chief minister on local government. His responsibilities have increased as his portfolio would assume important in 2020 when the local government polls are expected to be held in the province.

As already mentioned, the young Syed GhaziGhazan Jamal has been named the advisor on excise and taxation.

Six special assistants to the chief minister were also appointed. They are Shafiullah, a retired police officer now an MPA from Lower Dir, Riaz Khan, ZahoorShakir, Wazirzada, Ahmed Khan Swati and Taj Muhammad. Wazirzada is the first ever member of the Kalash community from Chitral to be elected on a minority seat.