KARACHI: The Sindh cabinet on Sunday bulged with 37 members from its earlier size of 17 with induction of 20 new members — nine of them ministers — whose names had been finalised by PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari in a meeting with Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah on Saturday night.
The nine ministers were sworn in at Governor House, where Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ibad administered their oath.
Right now, there are 18 ministers, 15 special assistants and four advisers in the Sindh cabinet.
The chief minister, however, still did not give the portfolios of home and finance to the new members of the cabinet.
The ministers who took oath on Sunday with their portfolios are: Manzoor Wassan [industries], Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani [planning and development], Imdad Pitafi [works and services], Fayaz But [public health and rural development], Mohammed Ali Malkani [livestock and fisheries], Mumtaz Jakhrani [population welfare], Nasir Shah [transport], Mohammad Bux Maher [sports], and Jam Ikram Dharejo [cooperatives].
The expansion in the cabinet reflects a mix of young and old parliamentarians in the cabinet with Mr Bijarani, 70, being the oldest and Mohammed Bux Maher, 28, the youngest among the ministers.
Five of the ministers are new entrants with two of them — Fayaz But and Mr Pitafi — had been part of the previous PPP government as advisers. The old guards like Mr Bijarani and Mr Wassan had been ministers earlier with the former had vast experience as parliamentarian in provincial and federal legislatures and cabinets previously.
Mr Malkani is too a senior parliamentarian who has history of switching from one to another political parties in the past. Nasir Shah was formerly mayor of Sukkur and a minister in Syed Qaim Ali Shah’s cabinet. Mumtaz Jakhrani is a Sindh Assembly member from Jacobabad, Ikram Dharejo is son-in-law of PPP stalwart Pir Mazharul Haq, while Mohammed Bux Maher is son of Ghulam Mohammed Maher and at present chief of the Maher clan.
The 11 special assistants included Rehana Leghari and Nadir Khwaja who are given human rights and chief minister’s inspection team portfolios. Ms Leghari is a PPP MPA while Mr Khwaja is said to be an old party worker from Badin.
Burhan Chandio [narcotics] is brother of Sardar Khan Chandio of Qambar while Abid Bhayyo [youth affairs] is a brother of a PPP leader of Shikarupr district.
Taimoor Talpur [inter-provincial coordination department] is a son of the party’s senior lawmaker, Jam Yusuf Talpur.
Similarly, Syed Qasim Naveed [special initiatives] is a son of Syed Naveed Qamar, PPP parliamentary leader in the National Assembly.
Former interior minister Rehman Malik’s son Umer Malik, aged 27, is the youngest among the special assistants and in the present cabinet. He is a professional in actuarial sciences and is given public-private partnership unit to assist the chief minister.
Baber Effendi [irrigation] is a retired bureaucrat with expertise in irrigation, Zulfikar Bihan [special education] is a party worker from Naushero Feroze district. Shahid Thahim [Sindh education and vocational training authority] is a son of former education minister Abdul Salam Thahim, while Anthony Naveed [interfaith harmony] is a party worker from Karachi.
Sources in the Pakistan Peoples Party, however, said the rich portfolios given to the new entrants like Mr Pitafi and Mr But could create anger among those senior parliamentarians who were entrusted with low-key ministries.
Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said the expansion of Sindh cabinet was aimed at developing a good team to start teamwork.
Speaking to media after offering fateha at the Quaid’s mausoleum along with his cabinet members, he said he had expanded the cabinet as he needed a good team to serve people of Sindh to the best of his abilities and expertise.
“My cabinet is a great combination of senior parliamentarians and youngest members of assembly,” he said, adding, this combination would work in the supreme interest of the people of the province.
Replying to a question on Kalabagh Dam, Mr Shah said the chairman of Wapda might have not read the report of A. N. G. Abbasi on the water available in the system because of his busy schedule.
“This is a dead issue but some people merely to score points on political grounds keep this issue alive from time to time,” he said and added people of three provinces, Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had already rejected the controversial project.
The chief minister said his cabinet would be tasked for result-oriented activities and they would be accountable for their performance.
“They are public representatives, people of Sindh have elected them and this is a baseless impression that some of the ministers are feudal lords.”
Later, Mr Shah herded his cabinet members to Bilawal House to meet the PPP chairman, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, where they discussed their future plans. Mr Shah thanked the PPP chief for trusting him and his team.
Besides, Mr Shah asked the divisional commissioners, particularly those of Karachi, Hyderabad, and Mirpurkhas to take all-out efforts to drain out rainwater from streets and low-lying areas.
“I will hold you responsible if you fail to perform,” he said.
Published in Dawn, August 8th, 2016