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Can Dr. Firdous Ashiq Awan be inducted into provincial cabinet?

The Supreme Court of Pakistan recently noted that Dr Firdous Awan seems to have violated not only Rule 13 of the 2005 Rules but also prima facie breached Article 204 of the Constitution by committing contempt against a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court in a press conference she hosted last year. Can she be inducted into the provincial cabinet?

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The Advocate General Punjab has opposed the induction of Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan into the provincial cabinet as she has been named as an alleged contemnor in the Supreme Court verdict in Justice Qazi Faez Isa case.  According to Geo News, the Punjab government has been reminded by the province’s top law officer that the apex court has said Dr Awan used contemptuous language against a sitting judge, and her appointment as CM’s assistant may therefore be considered as dismissive of the Supreme Court’s verdict.

The Punjab government had removed Fayyaz ul Hassan Chohan from the provincial information minister’s post and appointed Dr Firdous as Special Assistant to the Chief Minister on Information late Monday evening. A notification to this effect was also issued.

The notification said Chohan will remain minister for colonies, while Punjab’s information department will be headed by Awan.

The move came out of the blue and even Chohan himself was initially unaware of why or when he had been ousted from his post.

The Supreme Court had, in its detailed order issued just over a week ago, stated that Dr Awan seems to have violated not only Rule 13 of the 2005 Rules but also prima facie breached Article 204 of the Constitution by committing contempt against a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court in a press conference she hosted last year.

“Consequently, she should be made answerable for her conduct under Article 204(2)(b) of the Constitution through independent proceedings,” the court had recommended.

Read More: Who is behind Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan’s removal?

This is the second time that Fayyaz ul Hasan Chohan has been removed from the position.  He first had to resign from the portfolio in March 2019 after he made anti-Hindu remarks that angered and offended many in the country. The Punjab government had reappointed him to the post in December 2019.

Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan’s removal

Dr Awan was unceremoniously removed from the office after she reportedly refused to resign. She had denied the allegations of corruption and misuse of power during her time as the PM’s aide. Speaking to a local news outlet, she had said that how she could take 10 per cent commission while giving advertisements when no such advertisements were given to the media during her tenure. She had said that the files related to her ministry were never shown to her, but rather they were taken to Prime Minister Imran Khan directly by the secretary for six months.

“A case pertaining to an advertisement company who I supposedly gave money to, they got through to me after six months of trying even then they remain unpaid,” she had claimed.

Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan challenged anchorperson Hamid Mir to prove the allegations of corruption and misuse of power against her.

Taking to Twitter, she challenged the senior journalist to prove that she had misused her power while approving appointments in Press Information Department (PID). “Hamid Mir sahib, your journalism experience is more than my political experience. Do not leave this matter here. Show me the domicile of my constituency among the appointments I did in PID. If you cannot do this, then you have to admit that Maulana Tariq Jameel was telling the truth. Sach jaan kar geo [know the truth and live],” she tweeted.

She also said that during her tenure there were multiple pseudo-information ministers and were doing the job for her and may have hindered her progress at a few instances or confused the narrative she wanted to present as a government representative.

Sources close to the prime minister office told GVS that some ministers and spokespersons have disputes with Azam Khan, Principal Secretary to PM. Ms.Awan also was not comfortable being dictated by the secretary who was reportedly looking over her work.

Read More: PEMRA does not allow airtime for convicts: Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan

The Principal Secretary to PM has recently been in the eye of the storm. Jahangir Khan Tareen (JKT) acknowledged that he has a long-running conflict with Azam Khan, PM Imran’s principal secretary. “When we came into power, I had a different vision on how to govern the country. He (Azam Khan) has a different one. I had told Azam Khan that the government’s job was not to enact incremental change but to transform the entire country,” Tareen said.

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