'You can't do opposition while sitting in cabinet': PM Imran on Nadeem Chan's resignation

Published January 15, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan says he never asked his spokesperson Nadeem Chan to resign. — The New York Times/File
Prime Minister Imran Khan says he never asked his spokesperson Nadeem Chan to resign. — The New York Times/File

Prime Minister Imran Khan believes all cabinet members must stick to decisions taken by the cabinet after thorough discussion or resign if they do not agree with the verdict, but that they "cannot do opposition while sitting in the cabinet".

The premier expressed these views in an interview with Bol News, broadcast on Friday, while talking about the resignation of his aide Nadeem Afzal Chan.

Chan had resigned as spokesperson to the prime minister on Wednesday, days after he posted a “rather meaningful” tweet suggesting he was "ashamed" at how the government had handled the aftermath of the brutal murder of 11 Shia Hazara coal miners in Balochistan's Mach area.

Also read: Nadeem Chan says won’t quit PTI

Soon after Prime Minister Imran's remarks suggesting he was being "blackmailed" by protesting members of the Hazara community, who had refused to bury the slain miners until the premier visited them, caused a furore, Chan had tweeted: “O the bodies of the helpless, innocent labourers, I am ashamed.”

Chan’s resignation came a day after the prime minister expressed annoyance during a cabinet meeting that some of its members were opposing the government’s decisions and asked them to either accept the same or tender resignation.

Commenting on his resignation during the interview, the premier said: "Nadeem resigned; he must have his own reasons for it."

When asked whether he had resigned because Imran had indirectly censured him for publically criticising the government handling of the Hazara sit-in, the prime minister said: "I don't know."

Prime Minister Imran denied Chan's reported statement that he was asked to resign, saying he "did not ask anyone to resign".

He said the cabinet functioned on the principle of "collective responsibility", meaning all members of the cabinet owned the decision taken by it after debate.

The premier said his cabinet discussed every issue in detail on merit. "But when the cabinet takes a decision, if you have to go against it, you must first resign," he added.

"You cannot do opposition while sitting in the cabinet," the premier emphasised.

He also expressed annoyance at the fact that news of Chan's resignation "made it to the newspapers" before the resignation reached him.

A day after Chan's resignation, some cabinet members, including federal Minister for Maritimes Affairs Ali Zaidi and Special Assistant to the PM on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari, tried to convince him to review his decision and withdraw his resignation, according to sources in the ruling PTI.

However, Chan told some of his close friends that he would stick to his decision. But he said he would not leave the PTI.

Sources in the Prime Minister's Office earlier told Dawn that Prime Minister Imran had received Chan’s resignation but he had so far not taken any decision on it.

Earlier this week, special assistant to the prime minister on power Tabish Gohar had sent his resignation to the premier from Dubai due to personal reasons. But the prime minister did not accept it and during a meeting on Tuesday, he was asked to continue working in the same capacity.

Before Chan, some other aides of the prime minister have left the federal cabinet. They include former minister for health services Amir Kiani, former information minister Firdous Ashiq Awan, Farrukh Saleem, Dr Zafar Mirza, Asim Bajwa, Shahzad Qasim, Iftikhar Durrani and Tania Aidrus.

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