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March 6, 2020

Cabinet reshuffles: a question mark on KP govt’s performance

National

March 6, 2020

PESHAWAR: Frequent changes in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet have put a question mark on the performance of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government in the province.

The latest move on the part of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister is the replacement of Shaukat Yousafzai as information minister with a non-elected cabinet member Ajmal Wazir, who was earlier advisor to the chief minister for merged districts of the province. Ajmal Wazir took oath of his new responsibility on Wednesday. Shaukat Yusufzai has now been given the portfolio of minister for culture and labour.

Having a journalistic background and being the owner of a local Urdu newspaper, Shaukat Yusufzai had experienced being replaced and removed from the cabinet in the previous PTI-led government. He was first made minister for health in Chief Minister Pervez Khattak’s cabinet but was later appointed minister for information and public relations. The health ministry was awarded to Shahram Khan Tarakai belonging to Swabi. Subsequently, Shaukat Yusufzai was removed from the cabinet on the allegations of inefficiency by the then chief minister.

Belonging to the remote Shangla district, Shaukat Yousafzai was elected to the provincial assembly on the PTI ticket from Peshawar in the 2013 general elections. For the 2018 general election, the parliamentary board of the party did not allot him ticket in the first phase but later he was fielded from his hometown Shangla and made it to the provincial assembly for a second time.

In the beginning of the incumbent PTI government, Shaukat Yousafzai was spokesman of the provincial government and then he took oath as minister for information. In January 2019, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa cabinet was expanded with new ministers, advisors and special assistants. The portfolios of some of the provincial ministers were changed. Minister for Health Dr Hisham Inamullah was given the portfolio of social welfare while Dr Amjad Ali Khan from Swat was made minister for housing after having served earlier as minister for mines and minerals.

Advisor to Chief Minister on Education Ziaullah Bangash didn’t last long in his position and was given the ministry of science and information technology. The Education Ministry was awarded to Akbar Ayub Khan, who was earlier minister for communication and works. Malik Shah Mohammad was promoted as provincial minister. Earlier he was special assistant to the chief minister on transport.

In the same month, Chief Minister Mahmood Khan removed three key ministers from his cabinet owing to rift in the party. Those sacked included senior minister Mohammad Atif Khan, who was holding the portfolios of tourism, sports, culture and youth affairs, minister for health Shahram Khan Tarakai and minister for revenue Shakeel Ahmad. F

The fate of the sacked ministers hasn’t been decided yet even though two of them, Atif Khan and Shahram Tarakai, had met Prime Minister Imran Khan for a patch-up. The prime minister had remarked on the occasion that there would be no compromise on discipline in the party. There were also reports that these former ministers could be reinstated, but the decision and timing was left to the chief minister.

The prime minister had also reiterated his trust in Mahmood Khan as the chief minister. Subsequently, the chief minister had hinted at expanding the provincial cabinet by appointing new ministers and advisors and also about 10 parliamentary secretaries.

The removal of the provincial ministers and changing their portfolios in the provincial cabinet isn’t something new for the PTI in the province. This was also been witnessed in the previous PTI-led government when the then minister for mines and minerals Ziaullah Afridi lost his cabinet berth when he was arrested on the charges of corruption. Shaukat Yousafzai and Yaseen Khalil were removed from the provincial cabinet for their “inefficiency”.

Besides, the provincial ministers belonging to Aftab Sherpao’s Qaumi Watan Party (QWP), then an ally of the ruling PTI and part of the coalition government, were sacked on corruption charges. Ironically, the QWP was brought back in the PTI-led coalition government later.