MUZAFFARABAD: The former ministers and parliamentary secretaries in Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), who have aligned themselves with Prime Minister Chaudhry Anwarul Haq after the inception of the new government, are still occupying official vehicles in sheer violation of the relevant laws, it was reliably learnt.
Not only this, most of them had not vacated their official residences either, and many were also maintaining ‘control’ of their previous offices in the Civil Secretariat despite the passage of more than a month to the dissolution of the previous set-up, official source confirmed to Dawn on Wednesday.
Of the 19 cabinet members, including two advisers and a special assistant, in the Sardar Tanveer Ilyas led previous PTI government, only seven had retained their affiliation with the PTI while the rest had joined the so-called ‘forward bloc’ under PM Haq after his election on April 20.
All five parliamentary secretaries and the PM inspection commission chief had also joined Mr Haq’s camp.
According to the law on privileges of a minister,he can use one of the two officially allotted vehicles for a grace period of 15 days after his termination, resignation or dissolution of the cabinet.
But this privilege is not available to the parliamentary secretaries who are allotted one vehicle each and have to return the same immediately after the end of their appointment.
As the previous government stood dissolved on April 20, all cabinet members were required by the law to return one vehicle immediately and the other before or by May 5 while the parliamentary secretaries were supposed to return their vehicles the same day.
However, more than a month down the lane, neither the former cabinet members and the parliamentary secretaries associated with Mr Haq have returned vehicles in their possession on their own nor the government has asked them to fulfil this legal condition, sources said.
Contrarily, sources said, the vehicles possessed by the seven PTI loyalists (in the previous cabinet) were withdrawn by the Services and General Administration Department (S&GAD)“directly under the directives of PM Secretariat.”
However, no such direction was given about the remaining 12 ministers and parliamentary secretaries and, resultantly, all of them were still using the vehicles with impunity, the sources added.
PM Haq has been unable to extend his two-member cabinet, because the existing constitutional provision restricts him from appointing more than 16 ministers and two advisers and as many special assistants.
“His biggest worry is how to accommodate all renegades by his side, particularly when he has already committed six cabinet slots to the PPP and four to the PML-N.
“That’s why he is avoiding cabinet expansion before he can repeal the constitutional bar to the cabinet’s size,” remarked one source.
This correspondent tried to reach PM Haq and cabinet member Raja Faisal Rathore to ascertain an official version on this clear violation of law, but they did not respond to calls and messages.
Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2023
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