Skip to main content

Another reshuffle on the cards

Zahid HussainUpdated October 02, 2019

The writer is an author and journalist.

IMRAN Khan is now back home amidst applause for his ‘historic speech’ at the UN to face some hard political realities. The government is in a state of disarray and the opposition is threatening to bring the capital to a standstill. It is not a pretty situation. Meanwhile, rumours abound that a major cabinet shakeup is in the offing. But will reshuffling the deck resolve the primary problem of governance?

Over the last one year since coming to power, Khan has made several changes in the cabinet that now looks more like a collection of relics from the past. Reshuffling the same deck is not likely to transform this gallery of curiosities. Mere changing of portfolios and jettisoning a few dead weights is not likely to deliver.

This is one of the most bloated cabinets in the country’s recent history, with its huge army of advisers and special assistants adding to an already large team of ministers. The multilayered arrangement has worsened the crisis of governance. Most of the cabinet members are working at cross purposes fuelling much confusion.

Cronyism is the name of the game today as much as it was during the tenures of previous governments. Not surprisingly, Zulfi Bukhari, an old buddy and the prime minister’s Man Friday, is considered the most powerful person in government and appears to be delving into everything from foreign affairs to internal policy matters without holding any party position or being an elected member of parliament.


A major challenge for the ruling party is the collapse of governance in Punjab and KP.

Bukhari had been present during the prime minister’s meeting at the White House and other foreign visits. One is curious to know more about his professional credentials that supposedly qualify him to attend to sensitive diplomatic matters. His growing influence has raised many eyebrows within the PTI and outside. It is not the only example that exposes the contradiction in Khan’s pledge to establish a new political culture that does not allow any kind of nepotism. Bukhari’s is only one example of many.

Ad hocism is the hallmark of the Khan government and there is no sign yet of any significant change in attitude. More often than not, decisions taken by this government have led to controversy. (One such example was the arbitrary change of guard at the UN with Munir Akram replacing Maleeha Lodhi as Pakistan’s permanent representative hours after Imran Khan’s return.) The prime minister is certainly worried by the failure of his ministers to deliver. The growing inner party criticism of the government’s performance is quite ominous. The PTI members are taking on their government over its economic policies in parliament too.

Undoubtedly, the government had inherited a bad economic situation that required it to take tough reform measures that affected the people. But the government must also take responsibility for failing to act more urgently. One year on, the government has failed to bring confidence to investors and the business community. The shrinking economy will have serious social and political implications.

There may be signs of improvement vis-à-vis the current account deficit, but the fiscal situation is still alarming. The revenue target is hard to meet despite some reforms in the taxation system. While the decline in the economic growth rate was predictable as a result of a tight monetary policy, such a sharp fall is also the result of the government’s failure to infuse confidence in the business community — that can only come with political stability. The bureaucratic paralysis may also be a reason for development work almost coming to a halt.

Foreign investment has dropped alarmingly despite the government’s claim of improvement in the business environment. It requires greater political stability and a favourable environment to do business. It is domestic investment that essentially encourages foreign investors.

A major challenge for the ruling party is the collapse of governance in Punjab and KP, both under the PTI’s control. The situation in Punjab is worse with Imran Khan’s insistence on continuing with a lacklustre and inexperienced chief minister. Development work in the province seems to have come to a halt. The situation is not very different in the other departments.

The only tangible activity in the province are the constant changes in the provincial bureaucracy that has badly affected the administration. Transfers and postings seem to preoccupy the chief minister. But the major predicament for the prime minister is that there seems to be no one in the party to replace ‘Wasim Akram Plus’. One year down the road, there has not yet been any sign of the institutional reforms promised by the party being implemented in the country’s biggest and most powerful province. There are already signs of the party losing space. Imran Khan’s attempts to run the province via remote control have not worked either.

Encouraged by Khan’s failure to deliver and wanting to survive politically, the squabbling opposition groups seem to be getting closer on the single-point agenda of bringing down the government. Although both the PML-N and the PPP have yet to agree to join the Islamabad march called by the crafty Maulana Fazlur Rehman, the pressure on the government is palpable.

Surely, even if united, the opposition parties do not have the capacity or street power across the country to bring down the government. Yet they are capable of making things more difficult for the rudderless government. The so-called accountability process targeting major opposition leaders has given them something more with which to hit the government.

Of course, his speech at the UN General Assembly may have helped the prime minister strengthen his populist base at home, but it is a temporary phenomenon and will not divert public attention from other politically critical issues at home.

There is a need for the government to take corrective measures before it is too late. It needs much more than reshuffling the cabinet. Cosmetic measures alone won’t help improve governance and address the real issues. The prime minister has to review his confrontational ways that have been one of the major reasons for increasing political and economic instability. More than a change of faces, the government needs to set a clear policy direction.

The writer is an author and journalist.

Twitter: @hidhussain

Published in Dawn, October 2nd , 2019


Popular posts from this blog

SSG Commando Muddassir Iqbal of Pakistan Army

“ Commando Muddassir Iqbal was part of the team who conducted Army Public School operation on 16 December 2014. In this video he reveals that he along with other commandos was ordered to kill the innocent children inside school, when asked why should they kill children after killing all the terrorist he was told that it would be a chance to defame Taliban and get nation on the side. He and all other commandos killed children and later Taliban was blamed. Muddassir Iqbal has deserted the military and now he is  with mujahedeen somewhere in AF PAK border area” For authenticity of  this tape journalists can easy reach to his home town to interview his family members or   ISPR as he reveals his army service number” Asalam o Alaikum: My name is Muddassir Iqbal. My father’s name is Naimat Ali. I belong to Sialkot divison (Punjab province), my village is Shamsher Poor and district, tehsil and post office  Narowal. Unfortunately I was working in Pakistan army. I feel embarrassed to tell yo

RWR Advisory: Belt and Road at a Glance

This edition covers developments from March 12 - March 26..  Belt and Road at a Glance   Subscribe to the Belt and Road Monitor Top Developments China National Machinery Industry Corporation, commonly known as Sinomach, has agreed to  build  a $845 million, 255-mile railway across  Iran , building upon a sustained period of growth for Chinese investment in Iran that accelerated after Xi Jinping’s state visit to the country in January 2016. The railway will link the cities of Tehran, Hamedan and Sanandaj. China Civil Engineering Construction, a subsidiary of CRCC, is currently also  building  a 263-km railway line from Kermanshah to Khosravi. According to Chinese entrepreneur Lin Zuoru, who  owns  factories in Iran, “Iran is at the center of everything.”On March 23, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced that foreign direct investment by Chinese companies in 50 Belt and Road countries fell by 30.9% year-on-year. While the Ministry stated that this number covers investment across al

CPEC Jobs in Pakistan, salary details

JOBS...نوکریاں چائنہ کمپنی میں Please help the deserving persons... Salary: Salary package in China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in these 300,000 jobs shall be on daily wages. The details of the daily wages are as follows; Welder: Rs. 1,700 daily Heavy Duty Driver: Rs. 1,700 daily Mason: Rs. 1,500 daily Helper: Rs. 850 daily Electrician: Rs. 1,700 daily Surveyor: Rs. 2,500 daily Security Guard: Rs. 1,600 daily Bulldozer operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Concrete mixer machine operator: Rs. 2,000 daily Roller operator: Rs. 2,000 daily Steel fixer: Rs. 2,200 daily Iron Shuttering fixer: Rs. 1,800 daily Account clerk: Rs. 2,200 daily Carpenter: Rs. 1,700 daily Light duty driver: Rs. 1,700 daily Labour: Rs. 900 daily Para Engine mechanic: Rs. 1,700 daily Pipe fitter: Rs. 1,700 daily Storekeeper: Rs. 1,700 daily Office boy: Rs. 1,200 daily Excavator operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Shovel operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Computer operator: Rs. 2,200 daily Security Supervisor: Rs.