KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Saturday said it is the prerogative of the prime minister to change his team, but wondered at the “humiliating way” former finance minister Asad Umar was sacked and questioned the appointment of Ijaz Shah as a minister on the ground that he faces serious allegations of being involved in the killing of Daniel Pearl and Benazir Bhutto.
Talking to reporters after inauguration of the Bone Marrow Transplant Centre, he did not express surprise over the federal cabinet reshuffle and did not criticise Prime Minister Imran Khan over it, but wondered over the “sudden decision” amid talks with the International Monetary Fund and preparation of the federal budget.
“It’s the right of any prime minister to remove anyone [from his cabinet] or bring others,” he said in reply to a question. “But at the same time, he is responsible for keeping uncertainty away. All of a sudden you remove finance and other ministers, it appears quite humiliating. The criticism is not over the change, it’s over the way you [PM Khan] chose to execute your decision.”
The PPP leader also took the opportunity to question the appointment of Ijaz Shah as interior minister, calling it damaging for the international image of the country and its foreign policy.
Ijaz Shah’s appointment is damaging for country’s image and foreign policy, says PPP leader
“We have been raising this issue for quite some time. Amid tension with India you [PM Khan] expressed the resolve that you will not give any space to extremist elements and people associated with banned outfits. Now you are appointing the man accused of being involved in the killing of Daniel Pearl and Benazir Bhutto as your key cabinet member. It doesn’t hurt me personally, but it will be damaging for the country’s image, foreign policy and also the economy,” Mr Bilawal-Bhutto said.
In response to a question about the PPP government’s ambitious health projects mainly in urban areas of Sindh, but lack of focus on basic health programme in the rural areas of the province, he blamed the federal government for obstructing funds which had jeopardised the future of different social sector projects.
“This year we [the Sindh government] will be receiving almost 50 per cent less funds from the centre,” he said. “It means that we would be building 50pc fewer schools than we have planned and setting up 50pc fewer health units than we envisaged. This is why we argue about the 18th Amendment as the amendment, passed during the PPP government in 2010, has devolved powers to the provinces in key areas of public services, including health, women development, social welfare and local government, which ultimately benefits the common man.”
Published in Dawn, April 21st, 2019