Patchwork Won’t Work: Cabinet Reshuffle Means More Changes In Coming Days
The government did a hasty reshuffle to the cabinet this week amid economic and political chaos. Murtaza Solangi believes this could result in further instability and more changes in the federal and Punjab governments in the days to come.
A new patchwork cabinet consisting of un-elected seasonal birds has replaced eight-month old PTI cabinet in Islamabad. The honeymoon has ended too soon. The new change heralded by the party promising to bring change has a serious set of implications for the ruling party and the country itself.
The very fact that the incoming change was neither leaked by critical media nor from within the ruling party itself raises many questions. It was revealed by the set of media with the reputation of being too close to the Miltablishment.
Interestingly Islamabad administration tried hard to suppress the news and even notices were issued to the media houses by PEMRA to silence them. This alone has burned the proverbial fig leaf and revealed how things are managed in the project democracy.
What’s worrying is the manner and the speed at which the change was implemented. It betrayed the panic. The fact that the Finance Minister was removed on the heels of his negotiations with the IMF and just weeks before an important meeting of FATF in Paris and the next budget, is really worrisome.
Worse, it sent a terrible signal to the world at large. It killed any signs of confidence Imran Khan administration might have wanted to achieve, and exposed its fragility and vulnerability. As the first casualty of the sacking of Asad Umar, the signing of the IMF program as well as the annual budget, earlier announced to be presented on May 24, may now be delayed.
A coalition ruling with a razor thin majority has inducted a high amount of un-elected members. This will surely give heartburns to the elected members from the ruling party and bring in more instability.
The Imran Khan administration has been engaged in a coercive campaign against the opposition parties and has declared previous administrations responsible for the mess Pakistan is in today. Interestingly, many new inductees of the cabinet were the shining stars of the very same administrations that Mr Khan blames for our ills. Think of Dr Hafeez Shaikh, Firdous Ashiq Awan of this regime criticizing the policies of the previous ones!
The instability the current reshuffle has ushered in has cast doubts over the next moves Mr Khan may desire to take in the Punjab, where he committed the original sin of installing Usman Buzdar, mainly regarded as a rubber stamp chief minister.
As the pressure mounts on him to replace Buzdar with an efficient and experienced administrator, the blackmailing of the coalition partners and the dark maneuvers of the opposition are on the rise. Imran Khan really risks the Punjab to fall from his grip if anything goes wrong now.
The numbers in the Punjab Assembly are unstable and very close, giving cold sweats to both Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
The accountability cases initiated by NAB have pushed opposition to the wall but on the flip side have put the civil bureaucracy on the edge. The constant shuffling of the bureaucracy has not helped either. The Babus have literally frozen the decision-making, creating a virtual paralysis. Worse, the proposed local government law in the Punjab is making the members of the provincial assembly nervous, as they fear losing development funds in the future set up. This is a ticking time bomb for the PTI government where a minority party has been catapulted to power.
Uncertainty on FATF verdict on grey and black listing, economic collapse, rising political temperature, erratic governance and a hostile neighbourhood are the ingredients of the new, lethal cocktail of problems.
The change in federal cabinet has actually prepared the ground for more changes in future. The current status quo is NOT sustainable.