Qureshi turns dissenter, scorns reward criteria

Published February 12, 2022
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addresses a press conference in Multan in this file photo. — APP/File
Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi addresses a press conference in Multan in this file photo. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: A day after Prime Minister Imran Khan rewarded the top ten ministries on the basis of their performance, some federal cabinet members expressed reservations for being overlooked.

Sources in some ministries told Dawn that the list of ten top performing ministries announced on Thursday has created bitterness within the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) ranks after many frontline ministries were dropped from the list.

Some of the ministries that could not find their place among the list were foreign affairs, finance, information technology, housing, information and environment.

In fact, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is also the vice president of the ruling party, even wrote a letter to Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Establishment Arbab Shahzad, expressing serious reservations over placing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the 11th spot.

Govt allies MQM, PML-Q also criticise performance report

The criteria on which the top ten ministries were judged and a subsequent report presented to the PM were prepared by Mr Shahzad.

According to the sources, two government allies — the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), which held the IT and housing ministries, respectively — were also dejected for not being acknowledged despite showing ‘outstanding performance’.

In his letter, Mr Qureshi expressed reservations over both the performance of ministers and distribution of certificates among them. He wrote that in the first quarter set in the nine-month performance agreement, the Foreign Ministry achieved 22 out of the 26 targets assigned. Out of the remaining four, one of the targets was completed 99 per cent, and the reasons for delaying the remaining three projects were mentioned in a letter written on Oct 27, 2021, he stated in the document that is also being widely shared on social media.

The minister claimed that the performance of his ministry in achieving targets in the first quarter – first three months of the fiscal year — remained by 70pc, while that of the rest of the ministries was 62pc. In the second quarter, the ministry achieved 18 targets out of 24. He raised questions and said no written guidelines were issued for the third quarter.

Meanwhile, Mr Qureshi asked the opposition parties to support the constitutional amendment required for the creation of a south Punjab province if they were really sincere with the cause.

In a statement, the minister criticised PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari for not responding to his letter on the subject. “They should not impede the creation of the south Punjab province even if it is not in the political interest of Bilawal Bhutto and Shehbaz Sharif,” Mr Qureshi added.

Allied parties

MQM-Pakistan chief Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui also openly criticised the government for not acknowledging the “significant” performance of the IT Ministry he leads, which he claimed earned record revenue through exports.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has lauded the performance of the IT Ministry a number of times in the recent past.

“We [MQM] have increased IT exports of the country by 50pc, but we were nowhere on the top ten list,” Mr Siddiqui protested.

He said such reports and surveys judging the performance of the government should be conducted by the media or the masses, not by the government itself.

Sources in the PML-Q also told Dawn that the party was unhappy as the performance of the Housing Ministry — headed by a lawmaker from the party — was not acknowledged by the PM.

They claimed the ministry was doing its best to meet the targets of providing affordable housing facilities to the people, as desired by the prime minister.

Similarly, sources in the Environment Ministry said despite launching the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami programme, the ministry was not considered among the best performers.

The sources said some discontented ministers have expressed their reservations before the relevant quarters that the Establishment Division did not consider their “out-of-the-box” achievements. The Foreign Ministry believed it was not praised for conducting the recent Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Foreign Ministers summit on a very short notice as well as successfully evacuating Pakistani and other nationals stranded in Afghanistan when the Taliban took over in August last year.

Likewise, the Information Ministry was marked negatively for not executing a project for the appointment of 60 press attachés in Africa. The information minister, it has been learnt, had dropped the project considering it a waste of resources because there was no need for such officers in countries like Ghana and Uganda. Rather, the ministry had proposed appointment of cultural attachés in some of these states.

The sources said some of the disgruntled ministers were also unhappy that the Interior Ministry was considered in the top ten for merely issuing 40,000 passports. They were of the view that issuance of passports was a “routine matter”.

When contacted, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said, in fact, the Establishment Division could not properly communicate the criteria with the ministries as a result of which achievements of some of them were not acknowledged.

He said the survey was based on performance of the ministries over nine months — from July 2021 to date — and which of them had met targets mentioned under the Public Sector Development Programme.

Later, Mr Shahzad said in a TV programme that it was the right of Mr Qureshi to oppose the report, adding the document was prepared on the basis of available data.

“If Mr Qureshi thinks that his ministry should have come on the top position, it is his right [to think that way]. But what we have mentioned in the report, it was based on the data we received,” he added.

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2022

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