Induction of 3 new ministers in Balochistan cabinet resented
By Malik Siraj Akbar
QUETTA: The Balochistan cabinet was further expanded on Monday as three new ministers were formally inducted in the provincial cabinet which raised its current strength from 45 to 48 ministers, attracting immense flak from the opposition parties.
The oath-taking ceremony was held in the Governor’s House on Monday morning and was attended by Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani, Speaker Balochistan Assembly Mohammad Aslam Bhoothani and other senior government officials and leaders of various political parties. Balochistan Governor Nawab Zulfiqar Ali Magsi administered the oath.
The newly inducted ministers included two from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and one from the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI). Two of the new ministers come from the religious minority which now takes the total number of minatory ministers to three. Though former home minister and the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam) Mir Shoaib Nosherwani was also expected to be sworn in as a minister, his induction was halted at the eleventh hour due to some resentment by the PPP local leadership.
The ministers who were sworn in included Jaffar George, Jay Parkash and Asfandary Kakar. Their portfolios would be announced later on.
The fresh induction in the Balochistan Assembly has raised the number of the existing 45-member cabinet to 48. This is the largest ever cabinet in the history of the province where the total number of the members of the assembly is 65 and 48 of them are serving as ministers simply to please all the coalition partners.
Reaction: Soon after the oath-taking ceremony, when Governor Magsi was asked by the reporters how he viewed the largest cabinet in the history of the country’s poorest province, he said the issue pertained to the chief minister and his government and he was unable to comment on it. However, he confessed that the state of law and order in Balochistan today was the worst than ever before.
The expansion in the Balochistan cabinet has been widely criticized by the opposition parties who have described it as an undemocratic move by a government which is insincere towards serving the masses of the province but committed to protecting the individual interests of the provincial ministers.
Maulana Abdul Haq Hashmi, the provincial chief of the Jaamat-e-Islami, described the expansion in the cabinet as ‘shameful and undemocratic’. He said there was no justification for inducting new ministeris in the provincial cabinet given the fact that numerous ministers in the provincial cabinet already do not have portfolios. While the province’s financial health has worsened to such an alarming level that the University of Balochistan is on the brink of closure due to lack of funds, the government is continuously expanding its cabinet.
“The expansion of the cabinet is highly regrettable. Even we had our objections to the previous strength of the cabinet which was much higher than what is required to run a coalition government,” he told Daily Times, “Chief Minister Nawab Mohammad Aslam Raisani is being blackmailed by his coalition partners. He has to realize that such a big cabinet is going to be disastrous for his political legacy and the future of the province’s economy.”
Habib Jalib Baloch, the central secretary general of the Balochistan National Party (BNP), also criticized the provincial government over increasing the number of the cabinet. He argued that the PPP-lead coalition government in Balochistan had not succeeded in resolving the Baloch issue. “We have begun to receive new cases of enforced disappearances in the province. The military operation is taking place unabated across the province and this government has even outshined the previous regime of Pervez Musharraf. We strongly condemn its anti-people policies,” he commented.
Usman Kakar, the provincial president of the Pashoonkhawa Milli Awami Party (PKmP), said he was outraged over the constant expansion in the Balochistan cabinet. He ridiculed the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary of not being able to remember the names of all the ministers in the cabinet.
“The government is deliberately uprooting a democratic culture in the province where every member in the assembly is being given a ministry in order to keep his mouth shut even on the wrong policies of the government. The government is giving legal protection to corruption at the official level which is deplorable,” he remarked.