Chief Minister Balochistan Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani has removed provincial minister for minorities, Jaffar George, on the receipt of complaint from the government of Punjab for breaking the law. The government of Punjab informed Quetta that the minister had been caught along with two of his friends by Gujjar Singh Police in Lahore over misbehaving with some actresses at Al-Falah Theater after being heavily drunk. The manager of the theater had to call the police when the minister and his cronies refused to behave themselves. Hence, a case was registered against them by the Lahore police under section 506. However, the PPP minister was subsequently released on bail along with the two friends who accompanied him.
Taking stern action over the misbehavior of the minister, the parliamentary group of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) immediately recommended the expulsion of the minister from the provincial cabinet. PPP parliamentary leader Mir Sadiq Umrani and the provincial president of the PPP Senator Lashkari Raisani have both regretted over the wrong attitude of the minister which, they maintained, had brought disgrace to the entire province of Balochistan.
On the other hand, the minister, while defending himself, has termed the police action as a “conspiracy” to tarnish his political image. He has announced to move the Supreme Court of Pakistan against the Lahore police. Jaffar is not such a highly popular political figure in Balochistan or in his own party that one would even bother to hatch a conspiracy against him to destroy his political career. He has not pay the price for his individual crime rather than involving party politics. Meanwhile, the minorities’ wing of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) moved quickly to stage a protest rally in front of Quetta Press Club to express solidarity with the accused minister. They condemned the police action against the minister and two of his friends.
Chief Minister Nawab Raisani’s action is highly admirable. By acting timely, he has saved the face of millions of people of Balochistan. The decision of the Chief Minister has clearly sent a message to the whole country that the people of Balochistan do not own the wrong actions of a totally irresponsible minister. He has defamed not only the Balochistan chapter of the Pakistan People’s Party but the whole of the province with his unlawful and uncalled for attitude.
A member of the parliament represents an entire electoral consistency. He is responsible for speaking on the behalf of the members of the entire community. More importantly, a minister represents the entire province and its people. Mr. George represents the religious minorities of Balochistan but his actions have disappointed his supporters who proved their disbelief with the demonstration they staged in front of the Quetta Press Club that they still could not believe that their leader could resort to such disgraceful behavior. Though every citizen of the country is expected to wholeheartedly abide by the law, a member of the parliament and a minister is seen with greater expectations.
We eulogize the chief minister for briskly responding to the sad situation by ousting the ill-mannered minister. At the same time, such unpleasant developments naturally pose more questions. The Chief Minister has to explain what yardsticks are applied to induct an MPA as a minister in the provincial cabinet? We believe morality should not be the only benchmark for the appointment of ministers. Other qualities should also be taken into consideration when choosing members of the cabinet. The Chief Minister should not believe in the number of the ministers but the quality of services they offer after being entrusted a major responsibility. Balochistan does not require 50 ministers or advisors at any level. It was unwise on the part of the provincial government to appoint every Tom, Dick and Harry as a minister.
If ministers in Balochistan are judged on the basis of their law-abiding nature, transparency and clean track record then prospects of more ministers being ousted from the Balochistan cabinet are very bright!
(This post originally appeared in The Baloch Hal, Balochistan’s first online English newspaper)