Punjab cabinet: 3 advisers, 4 ministers get PPP ministers’ portfolios
The PML-N has appointed ministers for the slots that fell vacant after the resignation of PPP ministers in Punjab.
LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) leadership assigned the departments headed previously by PPP ministers to three advisers and four ministers on Thursday.
Meanwhile, members of the Unification Bloc, fearing a split in the bloc, are likely to announce in their meeting scheduled for today that they did want any portfolios in the Punjab cabinet for now, PML-N officials privy to the negotiations told The Express Tribune.
The PML-N members said that Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had considered 25 contenders from his party and the the Unification Bloc. “The problem was picking seven MPAs from the 25 short listed. All of them have small but strong lobbies. If Sharif had awarded portfolios to some of them, there would have been a split in the party,” they told The Tribune. “Sharif saved the coalition by assigning the departments to his advisers and serving ministers,” they added.
According to well-placed Unification Bloc and PML-N sources, the first cracks are already emerging in the bloc. They say that there are four potential groups in the bloc, headed by Dr Tahir Ali Javed, Ata Muhammad Khan Maneka, Saba Sadiq and one consisting of several old Ravians.
All these groups had told the PML-N that if portfolios were assigned to members of the rival groups, they would not keep their differences private. “All groups were okay with no portfolios being assigned to any of them. They just did not want some of them assigned portfolios while others were ignored,” party members told The Tribune.
However, the officials said that some Unification Bloc members might be assigned portfolios in the future, if negotiations succeed in breaking the impasse.
Meanwhile with the assigning of portfolios on Thursday, Shahbaz Sharif, who already heads 12 departments, has added another three departments to his portfolio: the ones that he assigned to three advisers —Begum Zakia Shahnawaz, Raja Ishfaq Sarwar and senior adviser Sirdar Zulfiqar Khan Khosa. The departments assigned to the advisers are those of Population Welfare, Cooperatives and Finance respectively. An official of the Punjab government told The Express Tribune that under the law, advisers and special assistants are not part of the cabinet. They cannot even sit in on the official cabinet meetings Â“but Sharif has been violating the law and inviting his four advisers to cabinet meetings”. He added that though the three advisers had been assigned portfolios, they would only conduct meetings at the departments. “The major decisions will be taken by the CM himself,” he said.
In addition to the advisers, ministers already in charge of important departments have been given additional charges of various departments. Law Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan has been assigned the Board of Revenue; Ahmad Ali Aulakh, already looking after five departments, has been assigned the Irrigation Department; Auqaf and Religious Affairs Minister Haji Ehsanud Din Qureshi has been assigned Labour and Human Rights Department; and the Food Minister Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor has been assigned the Mines and Mineral Development Department.
Source: The Express Tribune