LAHORE, Sept 23: The Punjab cabinet has not met for the last three months and there seems to be little chance of its meeting in the near future.
And this is happening in clear violation of the Punjab Government’s Rules of Business which say that the cabinet should meet once a week to conduct ordinary business. The chief minister can also call an urgent meeting anytime.
The last cabinet meeting was held on June 8 to approve the provincial budget 2012-13.
“The chief minister is busy handling other things. He is now scheduled to proceed on a 10-day visit to Turkey, Britain and Germany (from Sept 26 to Oct 5). Therefore there are little chances of a cabinet meeting in near future,” a source said on Sunday.
The prime focus of the chief minister is recent past has been loadshedding, construction of the rapid bus service path and of late dengue.
And his lack of interest in holding cabinet meeting, which is necessary under the law to get approval for important tasks, is accumulating government business.
At present several draft laws are pending approval of the cabinet without which they cannot be tabled in the Punjab Assembly.
The laws include the amendments to the Police Order 2002 which are being resisted by police as they take it an attempt by the bureaucracy to end their independence.
Another important pending draft law is the Protection Against Harassment of Women at the Workplace Amendment Act 2010.
Procurement and operation of new CNG buses by the Lahore Transport Company requires an approval by the cabinet. But sources apprehend that this issue may be decided over and above the cabinet.
So far as the constitution of the cabinet is concerned, it is being dominated by the chief minister himself by virtue of his status and the number of portfolios he holds.
According to official data, the number of the chief minister’s portfolios was nearly 26 till the surfacing of Punjab Institute of Cardiology’s spurious drugs scam. It was reduced following a public outcry and protests by the opposition in the Punjab Assembly. Today, officially, it is around 12 out of 41. The remaining portfolios are held by ministers, special assistants and advisers to the chief minister.
The ministers are eight out of whom only Rana Sanaullah Khan appears to be active in the assembly and during the cabinet meetings.
Sources say he and Senior Adviser Sirdar Zulfikar Ali Khan come fully prepared to attend the meetings, plainly giving their opinion on different issues. Others only pick files and sway with the mood of the chair.
Six out of the eight ministers hold additional charges of more than one department in addition to their principal portfolio.
Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor is P&D minister and holds additional charge of mines and minerals, and energy.
Haji Ehsanud Din Qureshi is the minister for religious affairs and auqaf. He is also handling labour and housing departments.
Malik Ahmad Ali Aulakh is agriculture minister but also holds additional charge of the portfolios of livestock, forest, irrigation and communication and works.
Minority member Kamran Michael holds the human rights and minorities portfolio, also enjoying additional charge of the women development.
Law and parliamentary affairs minister Rana Sanaullah Khan holds additional charge of the revenue and local government portfolios.
Excise and taxation minister Mian Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman holds additional charge of the portfolios of finance, school and higher education and literacy.
Special assistants Muhammad Manshaullah Butt is in-charge of food and environment protection department, Khwaja Salman Rafique of health, Syed Zaeem Husain Qadri of higher education and transport.
Chief Minister’s advisers Jahan Zaib Burki is in charge of public prosecution, Raja Ashfaq Sarwar of cooperatives department and Ms Zakya Shahnawaz of population and welfare department, social welfare and special education.