PA Secretariat thinks PPP ministers still in government


Despite lapse of four and a half months after the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) left the Punjab government, ministers’ chambers in the Punjab Assembly (PA) are still showing that PPP ministers are part of the cabinet and enjoying ministerial status, Pakistan Today has learnt.
The name plates of former PPP ministers including Tanvir Ashraf Kaira at Room Number 225, Farooq Yousaf Ghurki at Room Number 221, Ashraf Sohna at Room Number 220, Haji Ishaq at Room Number 222 and Dr Tanvirul Islam are still on display. Interestingly, the rooms were allotted to Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) Punjab Parliamentary Leader Chaudhry Zaheeruddin and legislators belonging to the PML-Q sit in the rooms, but no one in the assembly has bothered to change the status of the door.
Likewise, the door of Punjab Finance Minister Kamran Michael’s room is showing that he is only minister for minorities while paper slips inscribed with Unification Bloc leader Dr Tahir Ali Javed’s name, as parliamentary leader of the PML-Q Forward Bloc on the name tag of Opposition Leader Raja Riaz’s room tells another story. It is either negligence of the PA Secretariat or compliance of an undeclared wish of both the PPP and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) that the former allies might rejoin the provincial cabinet anytime.
Another interesting aspect of the PML-N and PPP hidden reconciliatory policy is that some of the former PPP ministers have not surrendered perks and privileges such as official cars, government residences and secretarial staff etc. According to sources, Tanvir Ashraf Kaira continues to use all facilities, including official residence and vehicle. On the other hand, the PPP, despite leaving the Punjab government on February 25, has not relinquished chairmanship of 15 PA standing committees. These slots were given to PPP lawmakers under the power-sharing formula agreed between the two former allies in Punjab soon after formation of the provincial government in 2008. The PPP was granted seven ministries and chairmanship of 15 standing committees.
At time of quitting the government, the PPP announced surrendering all portfolios and perks conferred to its parliamentarians but still the official PA website shows that the 15 chairmen of standing committees belonging to the PPP were still functioning. Among these parliamentarians, Malik Khurram Ali Khan is functioning as chairman standing committee for colonies, Iftikhar Ali alias Babar Khan Khitran, cooperatives, Mehr Irshad Ahmed Khan, culture and youth affairs, Sardar Khalid Salim Bhatti, finance, Tahir Mehmood Hundali, health, Sardar Muhammad Khan Khachi, industries, Tariq Hotiyana, IT, Malik Abbas Raan, irrigation and power, Muhammad Arqam Khan, mines and minerals, Colonel (r) Shabbir Awan, planning and development, Rai Aslam Khan, population, Sardar Shahzad Rasool Khan, revenue and services, Shabina Riaz, social Welfare and Asif Bashir Bhaghat for sports.
On being contacted, PPP Punjab Parliamentary Leader Major (r) Zulfiqar Gondal said that the chairmanships were not conferred as being part of the provincial government but a fair election was conducted for the slots and PPP members won the majority vote. These positions could not be de-notified, as it were responsibilities of parliamentarians to monitor and check the performance and working of respective departments, Gondal said. The PA secretary said that there was no legal or even moral binding on the PPP to leave the chairmanship of these standing committees.