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November 19, 2015

Why the LG minister lost his portfolio a day before polls

Karachi

November 19, 2015

Karachi
With the second round of the local bodies polls in Sindh less than 48 hours away, the chief minister Shah in a surprise move on Wednesday removed local government minister from his post on Wednesday and kept the portfolio with himself.
The services, general administration, and coordination department issued a notification, undersigned by the chief secretary, about Nasir Hussain Shah’s status now as a minister without a portfolio at 2 am, an unusual time for such an order to be notified.
Nasir had taken oath as a provincial minister on July 23 and had assumed charge of the local government department after a major cabinet reshuffle. Earlier, the portfolio was held by Sharjeel Inam Memon in addition to his regular assignment as the information and archives minister.
Now the portfolio of the local government department is with the Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah, who is already holding additional portfolios of several other departments. The decision comes across as a strange one as the local government elections had taken place in eight districts of the province on October 31 in the first phase and will be conducted in 14 more districts on Thursday (today) in the second phase.
In the third and final phase on December 5, the polls will be held in Karachi division only.
The ‘Khursheed factor’
Sources privy to the development said the decision was made when the chief minister had met with Pakistan People’s Party leader and opposition leader in the National Assembly Khursheed Ahmed Shah and former interior minister Senator Rehman Malik.
Later, the decision was endorsed by PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari who is abroad.
Khursheed, a senior politician, and Nasir, both are from Sukkur.
Both politicians have been trying to have their near and dear ones nominated for lucrative elected posts in the local government system that will soon be in place in Sukkur.
Political circles are of the view that Khursheed was unhappy

over Nasir’s appointment as the local government minister as the latter is said to belong to a different political lobby, which is closer to the Mahar clan of Ghotki.

‘Interfering sons’
Another reason is believed to be the increasing interference of Nasir’s two sons in the administrative affairs of different subsidiary civic agencies of the department including the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and the Karachi Water and Sewerage Board.
On Wednesday evening, the social media websites were abuzz with detailed accounts of cell phone call and text message records of the Nasir’s sons that showed that the two were constantly contacting the heads of civic bodies and the secretary of the department presumably for pressuring them for favours.
However, these records could not be officially verified.
Such cases of nepotism and undue interference in the administrative affairs of civic agencies are believed to be adding to the already tainted reputation of the PPP’s Sindh government.
However, provincial information minister Nisar Ahmed Khuhro refuted that differences between Khursheed and Nasir were responsible for the move.
“The provincial government is fully empowered to change or take back the portfolio of any minister,” he said.
The minister added that Khursheed was himself present at the Governor’s House when Nasir had taken oath as a minister in July.