Reaction to cabinet reshuffle
In parliamentary form of government cabinet reshuffles or resignations of high profile ministers on differences with party leadership on political issues are regarded as routine matters. In the mother of democracies the UK sometimes major reshuffle have occurred in the governments of both political parties. But in Pakistan the opposition parties have overreacted to minor cabinet reshuffle and have blown it out of proportion.
Senior PPP leader Syed Khyrshid Shah has described it wicket hit of half team of the Prime Minister. In sweeping remarks he said that failures on economic front lead to anarchy. Replacement of finance minister Asad Umar who inherited the team of economic mangers of hit-man Ishaq Dar with a high caliber technocrat Abdul Hafeez is worth appreciation decision. He has worked successfully and intelligently in the previous PPP government by keeping the surge of foreign debt in control whereas in the last PML-government, foreign loans of $ 50 billion were acquired, the bulk of which were spent on imports.
The former finance minister should have at least rid the ministry from Ishaq Dar cronies. Interesting he chose Younis Dagha as new finance secretary who was removed as secretary water and power for bad performance and as secretary commerce he forcefully defended in one of his article in a leading English daily news paper the fall outs of one sided Free Trade Agreement with China, a major factor of ballooning current account deficit. Trade deficit with China alone stands at $10 billion plus.
The Prime Minister is very keen about giving social protection to poor people. For the realization of this objective, which has never been the priority of other two mainstream political parties while in power, the federal government approved the creation of new division in the federal secretariat named as “Social Protection and Poverty Alleviation Division.”But the regressive fiscal measures taken in the form of repeated increases in the electricity tariff, unprecedented hike of 141 percent in gas tariff and introduction of irrational slabs of gas bills hit hard common man. To add insult to injury pharmaceutical firms were allowed arbitrarily to increase the prices of medicines. Hence it is no surprise that ministers for finance, petroleum and health were shown the door. Of course it is unprecedented when compared with apathy of PPP and PML-N governments for not sacking or replacing the minister on anti-people policies and corruption charges. Former Water and Power minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was elevated to position of Prime Minister despite the Rental Power Plants scam. NAB has arrested former Secretary Water and Power Shahid Rafi and the former minister is already under probe. Likewise, PML-N leadership did not replace the economic hit-man Ishaq Dar till his run away to Briton on board on the airplane of former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbassi.
Former President Asif Zardari and ANP Central President Asfandiyar Wali are frequently harping on the imaginary themes of scraping the 18th Amendment and reversion to Presidential system of government. These are the non-issues for the people. The transfer of more resources to province of Sindh by virtue of this amendment did ameliorate the lot of Sindhis as bulks of the resources were misappropriated. The ANP leadership had described the amendment as handing over control over the resources of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa to the provincial government. But the province is still deprived of its share of excise duty that federal government collects on dried leaves of two varieties of tobacco, Nicotiana Tabacum and Nicotiana Rustica. Likewise, the previous ANP provincial government could not launch any worth mentioning small and micro hydel power project. Likewise, setting up social protection authority in the province was not a priority of that government. Budget allocations were not increased for the less developed districts of the province. People have no interest in the opposition trickery of creating mountain out of mole.