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Controversy erupts over information portfolio; Chaudhry offers to step down in Rashid's favour

Updated December 08, 2018

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Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid claims the prime minister called him four times to deliberate on "a proposed portfolio reshuffle". —Dawn Archives
Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid claims the prime minister called him four times to deliberate on "a proposed portfolio reshuffle". —Dawn Archives

In an interesting turn of events on Saturday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry offered to voluntarily step down from his post in favour of Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid after the latter was 'overheard' claiming that Prime Minister Imran Khan had discussed a portfolio "reshuffle" with him.

Sheikh Rashid’s ‘controversial’ comments were aired by a section of private media channels. Seemingly unconscious of an open mic, he was talking to a person before the start of a press conference in Lahore when he made the remark.

During the ‘off-camera’ discussion, the railways minister claimed that the prime minister had called him four times to deliberate on the matter. Moreover, criticising Chaudhry's recent trip to the United Kingdom, Rashid reportedly said that the minister was having a “picnic in London”.

As soon as news about these comments started making rounds on social media, Chaudhry took to Twitter saying he will be “more than happy to vacate [his] position for Sheikh Rasheed and serve as MNA”.

“We all use trust [and] powers bestowed by [the] people of Pakistan, and [the] PM decides who is best fit in the role,” the information minister said. He, however, made it clear that until he is a minister he will "not bow to blackmailing of advertisement lobby”.

Later in the day, Rashid appeared on a private media channel and tried to issue a ‘clarification’ about his earlier remarks, saying Chaudhry was like a younger brother to him.

“I have no intention to take over the information ministry. Even if the premier offers me the portfolio I will politely refuse,” Rashid said while talking to ARY News.

It is pertinent to mention that the prime minister has reportedly summoned a meeting of the federal cabinet on Monday to review the performance of federal ministers on an individual level.