LAHORE: Former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi may face disciplinary action in case he does not clear his position before his party co-chairman for refusing to accept the portfolio of water and power, a PPP insider told Dawn on Saturday.
The source said President Asif Ali Zardari had to delay the oath-taking ceremony of the new cabinet on Friday for 25 minutes as Mr Qureshi had not turned up. But he finally came up with a terse message that “I am not interested in water and power ministry in place of foreign affairs”.
According to the insider, the PPP leadership was not happy with Mr Qureshi for ‘violating’ party discipline. He said some leaders had even suggested to President Zardari, also co-chairman of PPP, that Mr Qureshi be asked to explain his ‘behaviour’.
“If Mr Qureshi is allowed to violate party discipline, it will not set a good precedent,” one of the leaders was quoted as having suggested to Mr Zardari.
None of the others who were not offered a second stint when the 22-member new cabinet was announced expressed displeasure over his exclusion, at least not in public.
The notable omissions included Qamar Zaman Kaira, who held the information portfolio, and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf (water and power).
Another senior PPP leader said Mr Zardari had made up his mind to replace Mr Qureshi after his detractors convinced him that he had not given a good account of himself on ‘certain occasions’.
Mr Qureshi refused to reply to Dawn’s queries. “I do not want to comment” was all he had to say.
The Firdous factor
Firdous Ashiq Awan has surprised many in her party by getting the portfolio of information and broadcasting.
Several PPP leaders Dawn spoke to on Saturday were of the view that “some media houses” had played a vital role in winning for her the coveted position.
Yet, sources in the presidency said Mr Qureshi might be included in the next batch of the cabinet.