20-member cabinet ‘sans allies’ likely in Punjab

Published February 28, 2024
Punjab Chief Minister Mar­yam Nawaz. — AFP/File
Punjab Chief Minister Mar­yam Nawaz. — AFP/File

LAHORE: After the swearing-in of Punjab Chief Minister Mar­yam Nawaz, consultations over the formation of provincial cabinet have started in the Sharif camp.

In the first phase, a 20-member cabinet is lik­ely to be formed this week.

The PML-N leadership also held talks with its all­ied parties — PPP, PML-Q and Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP), which are also expected to get ministries in the cabinet in the second phase.

Senior PML-N leaders Rana Sanaullah, Pervaiz Rashid and Marriyum Aurangzeb are likely to be accommodated in the provincial cabinet.

Mr Sanaullah and Mr Rashid are expected to be inducted as special assist­ants or advisers to the CM, as they are not members of the Punjab Assembly.

Mr Sanaullah, who is considered close to PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, is expected to get the coveted portfolios of home and law. He had served as the provincial law minister in the last tenure of former chief minister Shehbaz Sharif from 2013 to 2018.

Later, he also served as the interior minister in the 16-month stint of the PDM government in the Centre following the ouster of former premier Imran Khan through a no-confidence motion.

Mr Sanaullah contested and lost the National Assembly election against a PTI-backed independent candidate from his hometown, Faisalabad.

There is still no clarity over what portfolio is to be given to Mr Rashid, another confidant of the Sharif brothers and a former senator.

Mr Rashid has been attending every administrative meeting that Ms Sharif has chaired since taking the oath on Monday.

There are also reports that the Sharif family may send Mr Rashid back to the Senate, but a final decision in this regard will be made by Nawaz Sharif.

“Interestingly, both Sanaullah and Rashid are not on good terms, and in case Nawaz Sharif decides to depute them in Punjab to assist his daughter, they will have to shun their egos,” a party insider told Dawn on Tuesday.

He added that outspoken party leader, Azma Bokhari, is being given the portfolio of information ministry while Ms Auranzeb, who has been brought to Punjab from the centre to assist the CM, would also get an important ministry. Both were inducted into the assembly on reserved seats for women.

Other names doing rounds as possible cabinet ministers are Bilal Yasin (a relative of Mr Nawaz), Faisal Ayub Khokhar (son of PML-N Lahore president Saiful Malook Khokhar), Zakiya Shahnawaz, Mujtaba Shujaur Rehman, Manshaullah Butt, Khizar Hussain Mazari, Ashiq Karmani, Ahmad Khan Leghari, Sher Ali Gorchani, Raheela Khadim Hussain and Sibtain Bokhari.

PPP, PML-Q and IPP lawmakers, to be inducted in the cabinet at a later stage, may not get any important ministries.

CM visits Civil Secretariat

Meanwhile, CM Maryam held a meeting with the provincial bureaucracy at the Civil Secretariat in Lahore. She was also briefed by the secretaries about their departments’ performance.

Speaking on the occasion, Ms Sharif vowed not to “violate merit”. “There will be no political appointments in government departments,” she said while emphasising the need for structural reforms.“

She also presided over a meeting to collect data on deserving people in the province and directed the departments concerned to initiate the repair and maintenance of roads. The CM also visited the Punjab Safe City Authority headquarters and ordered the launch of similar projects in all districts by December 31.

Published in Dawn, February 28th, 2024

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