Nadeem Afzal Gondal
Nadeem Afzal Gondal

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has reinforced his media defence team by appointing political heavyweight Nadeem Afzal Gondal as his official spokesperson.

A notification issued by the Prime Minister Office (PMO) on Tuesday said: “The prime minister is pleased to appoint Nadeem Afzal Gondal as spokesperson for the prime minister with immediate effect and until further orders, in an honorary capacity.”

The appointment has come as a surprise because Mr Gondal is a newcomer to the ruling PTI and several senior party leaders that could have been considered potentials for the slot were, in fact, not.

Before Mr Gondal’s appointment, the prime minister’s media team already had on it Iftikhar Durrani, the PM’s Special Assistant on Media with the status of a minister of state; Yousuf Baig Mirza, the PM’s Special Assistant on Media Affairs; Muhammad Sarfaraz, a deputy secretary and head of the PM’s official media cell; and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry, the government spokesman. Notwithstanding the presence of these heavyweights, though, PM Khan has in the past tended not to rely on them, and expressed his views directly through tweets.

A source in the PMO told Dawn that nobody there had been aware of the impending development, or what job others in the PM’s media wing will be doing.

The source added that Mr Gondal will work as the prime minister’s spokesman, on an honorary basis and without a salary or other perks.

Mr Gondal, also known as Nadeem Afzal Chan, joined the PTI in June last year, shortly before the July 25 general elections. Before this, he was counted as one of the main leaders of the PPP in Punjab and was fairly vocal in the media in defending the policies of his party, presently in opposition.

He served as the chairman of the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee for nearly a year, from April 25, 2012, to March 16, 2013.

His political career began from becoming a tehsil nazim from Malakwal in 2001. Subsequently, Mr Gondal was, in the 2008 general elections, elected MNA from NA-64 (Sargodha-I) as a PPP candidate. During the next elections, in 2013, he contested again from the same constituency and platform, but was defeated by Muhammad Aminul Hasnat Shah.

In October 2017, he resigned from the post of PPP Punjab secretary general, going on to quit the party itself in April 2018, and joined the PTI.

Published in Dawn, January 16th, 2019