Minding the store?


PPPs bull in the china shop Rehman Malik, who is never tired of stepping into areas where wiser men fear to tread, has this time offended the Foreign Office by an indiscreet statement. The FO has publicly distanced itself from a stand taken by the Interior Minister implying that India was not involved in terrorist acts on Pakistans soil. He has been told that this could be his personal opinion but not Islamabads known stance on the matter. Last week, Rehman Malik was snubbed by Finance Minister Hafeez Sheikh for maintaining at a meeting of the Friends of Democratic Pakistan that the donors should write off Pakistans debt. Rehman Malik who knows that powerful individuals in Pakistan can get bank loans written off was obviously unaware of the calls repercussion on foreign donors and international financial organisations. While in Quetta not long ago, he had announced that the FC would be given the powers of the police, only to elicit a strongly worded protest from Chief Minister Raisani. A day after, Prime Minister Gilani reprimanded the minister for issuing a statement which was against the governments policy.

The ministers in the federal cabinet continue to act in a way which indicates a lack of team spirit. The most recent incident is the public accusation by the Science and Technology Minister Azam Swati accusing the Religious Affairs Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi of corruption, followed by Kazmi suing his colleague for defamation. This has led the Prime Minister to impose a ceasefire on the two sides.

In a parliamentary democracy, the prime minister is the all powerful head of the cabinet. The authority enjoyed by him imposes certain responsibilities which also include disciplining the cabinet members. In the case of ministers frequently contradicting one another or acting like loose cannons, a perception is bound to form that one hand in the government does not know what the other is doing. This would be a damaging reflection on the ability of the prime minister to make cabinet members act like a disciplined team.