LAHORE: Disqualified former parliamentarian Jahangir Khan Tareen recently chaired a meeting of top government officials at the secretariat of the prime minister, reveal the official minutes of the meeting.

On Sept 13, Mr Tareen convened a meeting of the Livestock Emergency Working Group that had been assigned to develop a concrete plan to deliver on the prime minister’s commitment to revamping the livestock sector under the ‘Uplift Agriculture and Conserve Water’ theme of the new government’s 100-day agenda. The next meeting of the working group has been called around mid-October.

Mr Tareen was disqualified on Dec 15 last year for mis-declaration under Article 62(1)(f) of the Constitution — the same provision under which former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was held ineligible for life to hold any public office over the Panama Papers leaks case.

Minutes show federal and provincial secretaries in attendance at livestock moot

The former general secretary of the PTI, Mr Tareen, had filed a petition in the Supreme Court to review the Dec 15 verdict — this was, however, rejected on Sept 27, 2018.

The Livestock Emergency Working Group meeting was attended by the adviser to the prime minister on establishment Arbab Shahzad, National Food Security & Research secretary Dr Hashim Popalzai, Pakistan Agricultural Research Council Chairman Dr Yusuf Zafar, National Food Security & Research (NFSR) senior joint secretary Dr Javed Humayun, NFSR Animal Quarantine department director Khurshid Ahmed, NFSR Assistant Animal Husbandry Commissioner Javed Iqbal Khan, National Veterinary Labs director-general Aamer Bin Zaheer, Livestock and Dairy Development Board CEO Dr Fatahullah Khan, Fisheries Development Board CEO Dr Anser Mahmood Chatta, NFSR economic consultant Dr Muhammad Ali Talpur, Federal Water Management Cell director general Muhammad Tahir Awan, former Punjab livestock secretary Naseem Sadiq, and the Prime Minister’s Reform Team member Saad Hayat Tamman, as well as private sector stalwarts Amer Abdullah (Sapphire Dairies), Adeel Ahmed Aali and Waqar Ahmad (Nestle) and Syed Saud A. Pasha (Engro Foods).

The minutes of the working group meeting say that former livestock secretary Naseem Sadiq gave a presentation on Punjab’s livestock progress and challenges.

The working group agreed that the depletion of social and economic capital in the livestock sector had reached an alarming level. It acknowledged that the sector was riddled with issues such as low productivity of livestock endowment, poor milk and milk-based product quality, poor meat quality, and low demand for products that could boost the sector, amongst other issues.

In line with the PTI’s 100-day agenda and manifesto, and the challenges discussed, the group agreed to create seven sub-groups to achieve the milestones required: a comprehensive livestock plan.

When contacted, a working-group member told Dawn that besides the convener, Mr Tareen is an experienced farmer and could present his vision in the sector.

However, critics say Mr Tareen was chairing meetings in the prime minister’s secretariat where federal and provincial secretaries were reporting to him. “The civil servants who attended the meeting of a disqualified person must face disciplinary proceedings,” says a senior official.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2018