LAHORE: After becoming official spokesperson for the Punjab government on Friday, Fayyazul Hassan Chohan removed all other spokespersons for the Buzdar administration “on his own”, triggering yet another controversy as its beyond his mandate to use the chief minister’s power for the purpose.
Chief Minister Usman Buzdar is currently holding the charge of information ministry and Mr Chohan has only been appointed as official spokesperson of the Punjab government as a “stopgap arrangement”. The chief minister had asked Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan to resign as his special assistant on information last week.
Sources in the chief minister’s secretariat say that Mr Chohan has categorically been asked to project the Punjab government and Chief Minister Usman Buzdar’s performance, adding that Dr Awan had failed on this front that led to her ouster.
The PTI’s Punjab government has been grappling with the issue of proper projection of its performance and countering the hard-hitting opposition since it came into power three years ago as it has reshuffled the information department for seventh time so far.
The Punjab government is now trying Mr Chohan for the third time in its information wing.
In the beginning, Mr Chohan was given information and culture ministry but was removed for an anti-Hindu community statement. Since he had already sparked a controversy by giving a statement against stage actress Nargis, he was not given the culture ministry during his second stint in the information department. This time, Mr Chohan has only been appointed as official spokesperson and that too “till further orders”.
In between, Syed Samsam Bukhari, Dr Shahbaz Gill, Mian Aslam Iqbal and Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan were tried for handling the information portfolio in Punjab.
Disturbed over the information department leaders’ failure, the chief minister, during Samsam Bukhari’s tenure, had notified a team of 40 spokespersons with a “special task” to take on the PML-N leadership, especially Maryam Nawaz, for her aggressive stance against Prime Minister Imran Khan and the projection of Punjab government’s performance.
Mr Chohan, during his second stint as information minister, had also notified several spokespersons for print, electronic and social media and some of them were later denotified.
However, Mr Chohan’s first action after assuming the office of Punjab government’s official spokesperson raised many eyebrows, wherein he cancelled all orders regarding appointment of print, electronic and social media spokespersons.
Meanwhile, PML-N Punjab spokesperson Azma Bukhari welcomed Chohan “for the third time” and sarcastically stated that he (Chohan) had been appointed as spokesperson only “till further orders” and suggested him to “stay alert and don’t depend on Buzdar”.
Former SACM Dr Awan tweeted to congratulate Mr Chohan for his appointment as Punjab government spokesman. Wishing him well, Dr Awan hoped that Chohan would play his due role by projecting the Punjab government’s performance.
Sources say the PTI’s parliamentary secretary for information and culture Nadeem Qureshi was also an aspirant for the information ministry slot as he has been defending the Punjab government on information and culture front in the Punjab Assembly for the past three years.
PORTFOLIO: MPA Malik Asad Khokhar, who is inducted as 37th member of Buzdar cabinet, has been allotted the portfolio of housing, urban development and public health engineering department.
Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2021