- Dual nationality hardly the reason
SAPMs Tania Aidrus (e-governance) and Dr Zafar Mirza (Health Services) have resigned not because they had really delivered and their respective jobs were done, though Ms Aidrus said that she was resigning because she could not withstand the pressure put on her after her possession of dual nationality became known. The real black mark against her is said to be her association with sugar baron Jehangir Tareen, who was with her on the board of an NGO registered just before she was appointed. Although Dr Mirza said in his resignation letter that the recent severe criticism on the role of SAPMs made him resign, it was actually due to the fact that he had to take the heat for the rise in the price of medicines.
It does not reflect well on the PTI to bring in nonelected persons with supposedly high qualifications only to discard them when it turns out that they have not delivered. If that rule was also to apply to elected officials, how much longer would Ghulam Sarwar Khan survive as Aviation Minister after he brought PIA to the brink of collapse, or Usman Buzdar as Punjab Chief Minister after his incompetence threatens to sink the party? They are spared because their own votes matter in the respective assemblies, so narrow are the majorities on which the PTI is operating, let alone the votes of any group they had or might have built up. There is an element of whimsy in the case of Ms Aidrus, who was inducted only in December, and has already been shown the door, even though much was made of her and her experience with Google. Dr Mirza was actually brought in to replace an elected official. At this rate, Prime Minister Imran Khan may find he will start having difficulty finding people.
The dual-nationality excuse should not have been made, for it leaves open the question of what happens to the remaining SAPMs with foreign nationality or residency. The Cabinet continues to be attended by persons who have a nationality or residency apart from in Pakistan, and the issue is not resolved by just these two resignations. It is ironic that the resigning pair only recently addressed a triumphant press conference about their great victory over covid-19. Mr Khan should consider carefully whether he wants to leave the Health portfolio vacant at a time when the country faces a second wave of infection due to Eidul Azha.