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The guided or misguided missiles in Khan’s cabinet

By Salim Bokhari

February 17, 2020 09:43 PM

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Prime Minister Imran Khan’s oft-repeated pledge that he would review the performance of ministers at the Centre as well as in the two provincial governments including Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa could not be translated into reality. The main reason could be Imran Khan’s habit of taking frequent U-turns at the end of each promise, each announcement and each claim he made during the election campaign and during the one and a half year of his rule. He would never spend a moment to rethink or review as to what impact these failures to fulfil his commitments would have on his credibility.

At the federal level, his ministerial team has done one great job and that is cursing, in chorus, the ill-doings, and abuse of authority or financial corruption of the previous rulers including the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and the Pakistan People’s Party. They do not find anything wrong in the eight-year dictatorship of President Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf. The vociferous among them are Jehangir Tareen, Fawad Chaudhry, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Shahryar Afridi, Murad Saeed, Faisal Vawda, Ali Zaidi, Senator Faisal Javed, Shahzad Akbar, Zulfi Bukhari, Naeemul Haq, Brig Ijaz Shah, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and of course Sindh Governor Imran Ismail.

Following are some samples of their performance:

Jehangir Tareen is the person, who holds the largest purse and nicknamed as ‘ATM’ by the opposition leaders, having sponsored the 2014 dharna, PTI election campaign and all the rallies which Imran Khan addressed in different cities of the country. Despite being disqualified by the Supreme Court he still enjoys the status of being the ‘trouble-shooter’ for the party. His skill has all along been to win over people from different political parties to PTI – be that in the name of Janoobi Sooba or offering ministerial slots. But his greatest performance was to persuade Akhtar Mengal, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Pervez Elahi to become allies of the PTI enabling it to form government at the Centre and in Punjab. Recently he has been blamed for flour and sugar crises.

Fawad Chaudhry probably is the most experienced person in the lot of ministers since he has been holding similar positions when he was in the PPP, Q-League, Pervez Musharraf’s cabinet and now in PTI. He could well be termed ‘the mater of the game’ who is capable of saying anything at any given time. He is the master of the art to project and promote non-issues to save his party’s government from criticism on its failures on important issues.

Shahryar Afridi’s best performance could be trapping of PTI’s staunch adversary PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah into allegedly a false case under anti-narcotic laws claiming recovery of 15kg heroin and alleging that Rana Sanaullah was a member of an international drug-trafficking gang. Taking an oath in the name of Allah Almighty about a 100 times and offering his life to the Lord, the minister could not deliver the oft-claimed video of the incident leave alone bringing forth any credible proof or evidence.

Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan’s record-making utterances when talking about the recent earthquake, she said the earth could not tolerate the successes of Prime Minister Imran Khan and was changing sides. Please don’t get impatient. She has been going beyond this while praising former president and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari when the lady was in the Pakistan People’s Party. No need to recall what she used to brand Imran Khan then. Other great achievements of the lady include initiating the idea of Media Trial Courts and of course her claim that Pakistani press is freest in the world.

Murad Saeed is Jeane Dixon of the PTI and makes such claims on behalf of his master that have no touch with reality. His famous speech in which he had claimed: “Mera leader jaye ga do soo arab laey ga, aik soo IMF kay munh par maray ga aur aik soo khazanay main jamah karaye ga”. (My leader will go abroad and would bring in Rs200 billion, he would throw Rs100 billion on the face of the IMF and the remaining would be deposited in the national exchequer). It is his incumbent duty to respond to every word said by the Opposition inside and outside the National Assembly.

Faisal Vowda is John Wayne of Hollywood films whose best performance was to wear a commando uniform and rush to the Chinese Consulate in Karachi which was attacked by the terrorists. By doing so he only stayed on the television screens for a while but at the same time became a security risk for the law-enforcers who were engaging in fighting the terrorists. But the most remarkable performance was when he brought with him the military boot and placed it on the table during a recent TV talk show. Apparently he did that to please the military elite and to expose the Opposition but it became counter-productive.

Ali Zaidi was considered to be one of the sober elements in PTI top brass. Initially, he started off okay but when he claimed that during three months of his tenure as federal minister he had earned through China Rs9 billion and further said by beating his chest: “This money is right here in my pocket”. But his star performance was when he came out with a campaign to clean Karachi city of the mountains of ‘Kutchra’ (garbage) in a few weeks. But what happened afterwards he probably does not know himself.

Senator Faisal Javed is basically a stage secretary for public rallies addressed by Prime Minister Imran Khan during the PTI’s election campaign and afterwards. He could well be branded as integral part (Atoot Ang) of Imran Khan. His primary responsibility is not to leave the Premier alone. But the question is who has assigned him such a sensitive task?

Shahzad Akbar is not an elected person but has been the brain behind initiating corruption cases against Opposition leaders irrespective of them being genuine or false. It seems his primary responsibility is to sit in the PID press room and share with media representatives unattested photocopies of allegations providing basis for yet another case against anyone who speaks against Imran Khan in public. Not even one case initiated on material provided by him has been proved in the courts. His kind of human elements are found in all regimes who know the art of pleasing the boss to gimmicks and tricks. He could be taken as a very successful man that way.

Zulfi Bokhari is yet another friend of Imran Khan who despite not being elected has been assigned the most important Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis. He is close confidant of the Premier cause he is also seen with Imran Khan every time he travels abroad. His greatest quality is to manoeuvre Pakistan’s legal system and it was proved when his name was removed from the Exit Control List within 45 minutes of his learning of the ban while accompanying the Prime Minister for performing Umrah.

Naeemul Haq too is not elected but is a very loyal friend of Imran Khan having been with his boss under all difficult circumstances. No one can meet Imran Khan at his Banigala residence without clearance from him and similarly no file can get through to the Premier without his consent. There is no charge against him for compromising his loyalty to Imran Khan.

Brig Ijaz Shah is regarded as a bridge between Imran Khan and the Army, the role he is playing very dedicatedly and honestly. He happens to be the closest adviser to the Prime Minister on the latter handling of his political adversaries. But his claim that Maulana Fazlur Rahman would never come to stage dharna in Islamabad was ill-conceived. But he is an encyclopedia of Pakistani political elite simply because Shah Jee had held important positions through his military career.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi has always been very loyal to his bosses be that during the rule of Pakistan Muslim League where he acted as finance minister in Punjab, Asif Ali Zardari when he served as the foreign minister and currently holding the same position in Imran Khan’s cabinet. His father was Governor Punjab and Deputy Chairman Senate during Gen Ziaul Haq’s regime.

Imran Ismail is a PTI ‘bouncer’ assigned to handle PPP government in Sindh bringing one issue after another making life miserable for Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah. He can claim credit for wooing MQM to PTI-led coalition’s fold at the Centre enabling it to form the government. He is a trouble-shooter and ‘trouble-maker’ at the same time.

Salim Bokhari

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