Imran hints at another cabinet shuffle

Updated October 01, 2019

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Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday hinted at some changes in the federal cabinet after some leaders, during a meeting of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) parliamentary party, complained about “non-cooperation” of some ministers in addressing people’s grievances. — AFP/File
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday hinted at some changes in the federal cabinet after some leaders, during a meeting of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) parliamentary party, complained about “non-cooperation” of some ministers in addressing people’s grievances. — AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday hinted at some changes in the federal cabinet after some leaders, during a meeting of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) parliamentary party, complained about “non-cooperation” of some ministers in addressing people’s grievances.

The meeting, co-chaired by the prime minister and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi at the Parliament House, also discussed Mr Khan’s recent visit to the United States and address at the UN General Assembly where he successfully raised the issue of India-held Jammu and Kashmir.

The foreign minister briefed the meeting on the Kashmir issue and Pakistan’s stance at the UNGA session, while the prime minister presented a review on what could happen if the situation worsened between Pakistan and Indian over the Kashmir issue.

Talking to Dawn, senior PTI leader and former finance minister Asad Umar said the prime minister had hinted at his [Mr Umar’s] return to the cabinet. “When I informed the prime minister that I have ample time but no work to do, he said I will be given a new assignment very soon,” Mr Umar added.

Asad Umar says PM will give him new assignment; MNA claims in PTI parliamentary party meeting he was chided for raising issue of inflation in National Assembly

He said that no specific change in the cabinet was announced by the prime minister during the meeting. “What media is reporting regarding mass-scale reshuffle in the cabinet was not announced,” he added.

A source said that when one of the MNAs complained that ministers did not entertain his complaints regarding people’s problems, the prime minister expressed dissatisfaction and said “those who will not deliver will be removed”.

Mr Umar confirmed that some of the party leaders had complained about non-cooperation by federal ministers. “It is a normal complaint which is usually made in such party meetings,” he added.

According to media reports, portfolios of some federal ministers like Shafqat Mehmood, Zubeda Jalal, Ijaz Shah, Fawad Chaudhry, Firdous Ashiq Awan and Nadeem Afzal Chan could be changed. PTI leader Babar Awan is likely to get some important position in the government.

It has also been reported that Prime Minister Khan reprimanded PTI lawmaker Noor Alam Khan for delivering a speech in the National Assembly recently on price hike.

When contacted, Noor Alam said the prime minister was unhappy with him for raising the issue of inflation on the floor of the National Assembly on Sept 16. He quoted the prime minister as saying: “Had you ever spoken against the government when you [Noor Alam] were in Pakistan Peoples Party.”

Mr Alam said he asked the prime minister that he had always spoken on the ills of the government when he was in the PPP. “I asked the prime minister to check the record of the National Assembly and find that I had always raised my voice on public issues during the PPP regime,” he added.

The MNA, who joined the ruling PTI shortly before the 2018 general election, said that whenever any party came to power it always complained about shortage of reserves and that the national exchequer was empty. “I am a public representative and, therefore, I will continue to raise the issues confronting the common man and farmers,” he added.

He said he had no desire to become a member of the federal cabinet and would continue to point out inappropriate steps of the government, if any.

Public meeting

The PTI announced that Prime Minister Khan would address a public meeting in Skurdu on Oct 4 in which he would give a roadmap for development in Gilgit-Baltistan.

The prime minister also chaired a separate meeting of his economic team and emphasised that industrial development was vital for economic growth and job creation.

The meeting was attended by Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar, Minister for Planning and Development Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan, PM’s advisers Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Abdul Razak Dawood and Dr Ishrat Hussain, PM’s special assistants Dr Sania Nishtar, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Nadeem Babar and Yousaf Baig Mirza and Board of Investment Chairman Syed Zubair Haider Gillani.

Shaukat Tareen, National Disaster Management Authority Chairman Lt Gen Mohammad Afzal and other senior government officials were also present.

The meeting was briefed on outcomes of the steps being taken by the government for sustainable growth and economic consolidation, increasing productivity, ease of doing business and protection of the existing and prospective investors.

Other important issues discussed during the meeting included poverty alleviation, infrastructure and communication development, revitalisation and mobilisation of dead investment, disaster management and improved coordination among the ministries and divisions concerned for smooth and timely implementation of projects. The meeting was also briefed on investment in small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the construction sector.

“Focus must be made on those projects that yield high productivity while removing the hindrances in their way simultaneously,” the prime minister said, adding that without giving protection to the business community, economy could not flourish. “We must raise confidence of the business community for increased investment in all sectors.”

The prime minister directed that all the poor strata of society be included in the Ehsaas programme, such as chronically poor, extremely poor and marginalised poor segments.

The meeting was informed about the importance of inclusion of women for balanced economic development of the country.

“Women should be given incentives and facilitation for their contribution in the socio-economic development,” the prime minister added.

The special assistant on information, while citing the Malaysian model of growth, said that empowerment of women and facilitation would contribute significantly to socio-economic growth of Pakistan.

The NDMA chairman briefed the meeting on proposals regarding communication and infrastructure development and mobilisation of dead investment for reaping investment benefits in the short term. He also proposed the creation of Disaster Risk Financing in the wake of frequent natural disasters and shortage of funds earmarked currently to respond in case of any eventuality.

The meeting was also briefed on the proposed lease plan of the Pakistan Steel Mills and the interest shown by the Russian and Chinese companies.

The prime minister directed the authorities concerned to come up with a comprehensive plan regarding the proposed lease of PSM at a separate meeting at the earliest.

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2019