LAHORE: Former senior minister Abdul Aleem Khan was reinducted into the Punjab cabinet after a gap of 14 months as he took oath of his office at the Governor’s House on Monday.
Governor Chaudhry Sarwar administered oath while Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, a couple of other provincial ministers, the chief secretary and Mr Khan’s family members were present in the ceremony.
A notification was later issued regarding the appointment of Abdul Aleem Khan (MPA from PP-158).
Portfolio for Mr Khan has not yet been announced but there is a buzz that he would return to the local government ministry as well as the Planning and Development Department.
Political circles, particularly those in the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), are waiting anxiously to see whether Aleem Khan gets back the ‘senior minister’ portfolio as well along different departments or not. Getting the portfolio of senior minister, sources say, will mean that he will practically act like a deputy chief minister as before and occupy the 90-Shahrah-e-Quaid-e-Azam, a part of the Chief Minister’s Secretariat.
The sources say the terms for the reinducted minister would determine Aleem Khan’s role in the Punjab government and speculate how Aleem-Buzdar relations would be in the days to come. They claim Mr Khan was not re-inducted in the Punjab government even after his release on bail because Mr Buzdar had expressed his concerns about his interference.
Mr Khan had voluntarily resigned when the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested him on Feb 6 last year as he went to the NAB office for his routine appearance in his offshore companies and assets beyond means case.
Mr Khan’s resignation was formally approved in Punjab cabinet’s seventh meeting on Feb 8 and the additional charge of the senior minister local government department portfolio was given to law minister Basharat Raja.
Though it was expected that Mr Khan would return to his portfolio after his release on bail, the PTI government kept mum on the subject, primarily due to his power tussle with CM Buzdar. Mr Khan had also kept himself aloof.
It may be mentioned that Punjab Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries Minister Sibtain Khan had also tendered his resignation after being arrested by NAB but he was re-inducted in the cabinet after getting clearance from the court.
Governor Sarwar and CM Buzdar congratulated Aleem Khan on rejoining the cabinet. Mr Buzdar said Mr Khan was a seasoned parliamentarian and hoped that he would continue serving the masses with renewed vigour and determination.
In another development, Punjab Food Minister Samiullah Chaudhry tendered his resignation as he was named in the federal government’s report of inquiry into wheat flour crisis for delaying wheat procurement campaign for over two weeks.
While the food department ministry is lying vacant, sources claim that this portfolio might also go to Aleem Khan. There are also rumours that this all-important ministry may go either to Sardar Ahmad Ali Dreshak from Dera Ghazi Khan or Awais Dreshak from Rajanpur.
Published in Dawn, April 14th, 2020