LAHORE: While taking live calls from the general public on television over a host of issues ranging from corruption, inflation and governance to tourism sector and problems pertaining to housing societies on May 11, 2021, the incumbent Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan had reaffirmed his pledge that he would change “his team” if his advisers and ministers did not perform.
Research shows that not all advisers, ministers, special assistants and loyal aides, appointed by the premier, have been sacked for poor performance or corruption etc. Some had left prized and cozy offices of their own accord.
For example, a key Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader and a senior provincial minister in Punjab, Abdul Aleem Khan, had opted to hang his boots on September 11, 2021. Aleem had cited pressing personal business engagements as the key reason and his resignation is yet to be accepted. Premier Imran Khan is still pondering over his trusted lieutenant Aleem Khan’s shocking resignation reportedly.
On Tuesday, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Power and Petroleum Tabish Gauhar has left office amid speculations like a tiff with Federal Minster Hammad Azhar and conflict of interest etc. PTI had begun losing loyal stalwarts much before it had come into power in August 2018.
On December 16, 2017, a day after being disqualified by the Supreme Court, Jahangir Khan Tareen had called it a day as the General Secretary of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Here follows a list of prime minister's special assistants, advisers and ministers who have left offices owing to one reason or the other during the last 37 months, or were sent home by those who appointed them:
The first to go was Babar Awan, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs. He resigned from his post on September 4, 2018, in the wake of a corruption reference filed against him by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for allegedly causing delays in the Nandipur Power Project. Babar was reappointed on the same slot in 2020 though.
The next who came in the line of fire was Atif Mian, Prime Minister’s Economic Advisor. Atif was handed over the pink slip by the-then newly formed PTI government on September 7, 2018. The government had actually come under severe criticism from several religious groups for appointing Atif, a Princeton University economist, as he belonged to the minority Ahmadi Community.
In December 2018, Federal Minister for Science and Technology, Azam Swati, was told to go home just days after being caught in a controversy over transfer of Islamabad IG Police. He, however, had managed to be part of the Federal cabinet again after some time.
The most recent ones to go, apart from Tabish Gauhar, include the likes of Ashiq Awan and Aun Chaudhry, who had left offices or were forced to do so, on August 6, 2021.
On July 29 this year, Adviser to Prime Minister Imran Khan on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain, had resigned.
Another Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, Zulfi Bukhari, had resigned from his office on May 17, 2021, saying he had taken a high moral approach as his name had surfaced in a Rawalpindi Ring Road scam report unveiled by the sitting government.
On March 29, 2021, Abdul Hafeez Sheikh had resigned as Finance and Revenue Minister.
On March 26, 2021, Prime Minister's Special Assistant on Petroleum, Nadeem Babar, had to leave charge over petroleum crisis. According to the details garnered by a section of media, Nadeem Babar was made to leave on PM Imran Khan's instructions as his name had appeared in a probe related to the fuel crisis during June 2020. On January 13 this year, a disgruntled PTI leader, Nadeem Afzal Chan, had tendered his resignation as Prime Minister’s Special Assistant.
On January 08, 2021, PTI's Firdous Shamim Naqvi had left charge as Leader of the Opposition in the Sindh Assembly before the Senate elections. His outburst against the party had paved way for Haleem Adil Sheikh to lead the Opposition in Sindh Assembly.
In October 2020, Lt. General (retired) Asim Saleem Bajwa had left charge as PM's Adviser on Information. Bajwa had tendered his resignation in September of the same year, but the PM had refused to accept.
Then, on August 3 this year, Asim Bajwa had also resigned as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority Chairman. In April 2020, Shahzad Arbab was removed as Adviser to the Premier on Accountability.
In April 2020, MQM's Khalid Mehmood Siddiqui had resigned as Information Technology Minister. On February 25, 2020, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Media, Iftikhar Durrani, had to go home.
On November 20, 2019, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Media Affairs, Yousaf Baig Mirza, had resigned, citing personal reasons. Yousaf Baig Mirza, by the way, has again met PM Imran Khan on Tuesday and might just be vying for a new slot. The current government does appoint people, who had previously relinquished charge.
On August 24, 2021, in what could be dubbed a jolt to government's Economic team, the Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenues, Dr Waqar Masood, had decided to quit.
On November 5, 2020, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Power Division, Shahzad Syed Qasim, had relinquished his post. He had assisted Prime Minister Imran Khan with his expertise in the marketing development of mineral resources and on Power Division affairs.
On July 29, 2020, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Digital Pakistan, Tania Aidrus, and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health, Dr Zafar Mirza, announced they had resigned from their posts amid a corruption uproar. It is imperative to note that only seven people (14 percent) of the 50 plus Cabinet members of Imran Khan, were his old companions, and almost 86 percent of the government functionaries had either joined PTI on its historic Lahore rally of October 30, 2011 or just before the 2018 ballot exercise.
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