ISLAMABAD: Within a month after joining the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), former Sindh chief minister Arbab Ghulam Rahim got a position in the federal cabinet when Prime Minister Imran Khan appointed him his special assistant on Sindh affairs on Wednesday.

Mr Rahim has been made the special assistant to the prime minister (SAPM) under the Rules of Business 1973 as there is no such provision available in the Constitution.

The notification about his appointment issued by the Cabinet Division says “the appointment shall be in honorary capacity”.

The 64-year-old politician from one of the most backward areas of the country, Tharparkar, had formerly joined the PTI during a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan on July 1.

Arbab Ghulam Rahim made SAPM on Sindh affairs

“The prime minister has tasked me with organising the party [in Sindh],” Mr Rahim had stated after his meeting with Mr Khan. He then said the people would get to hear plenty of “good news” from Sindh in the coming days.

Mr Rahim is a medical doctor and previously he had served as the Sindh chief minister while representing the then king’s party, Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q), from 2004 to 2007 when former army chief retired General Pervez Musharraf was ruling the country. Later, he had formed his own political party, the Peoples Muslim League, but merged it in the PML-N in 2013 after meeting Shehbaz Sharif. However, before the general election in 2018, he became part of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA), an alliance of anti-PPP parties in the province.

The politician from Tharparkar has been inducted in the cabinet amid reports about Prime Minister Imran Khan’s plan to hold public meetings in Sindh next month.

With Mr Rahim’s appointment, the size of the federal cabinet has swelled to 53. At present, the cabinet comprises 28 federal ministers, four ministers of state, four advisers and 17 SAPMs. Out of the 53 members of the federal cabinet, 22 members, including Finance Minister Shaukat Fayyaz Tarin, are non-elected people. This is perhaps for the first time in the country’s history that nearly 42 per cent members of the cabinet are non-elected people.

Besides this, Mr Rahim is among the 17 people in the present cabinet who were previously associated with former military dictator Pervez Musharraf.

Speaking at his last news conference in Dubai in February 2019, Gen Musharraf had stated that half of the ministers in the cabinet of Imran Khan were his people.

The former military ruler had also said that his party would continue to support the PTI government that, according to him, had emerged as the third “political force” in the country.

Published in Dawn, July 29th, 2021

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