News Analysis |
The embattled Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) set another precedent, in bad taste, days before the culmination of its tenure. This was done by appointing Miftah Ismail as the Finance Minister of the country, on Thursday. Miftah Ismail, who was the Prime Minister’s adviser on finance, is not a member of the assembly or Senate.
Therefore, the Federal Government cited clause 9 of Article 91 of the constitution, according to which any minister, eligible to become a legislator, has to serve as the member of the Assembly six months. The article states “A Minister who, for any period of six consecutive months, is not a member of the National Assembly shall, at the expiration of that period, cease to be a Minister and shall not, before the dissolution of that Assembly, be again appointed a Minister unless he is elected a member of that Assembly,”.
PML-N can justify Miftah’s appointment through the given clause, the precedent is definitely a bad example for the governments in future. This is not the first time PML-N has roped in an individual unfit to steer his department. With that in mind, Miftah’s escalation, just hours before the presentation of the budget, still raises immense concern. Prior to Miftah’s episode, PML-N appointed many individuals as heads of crucial departments, either in violation of rules or after amending the standard procedures.
As can be seen, there’s a long list of appointments under PML-N ’s current tenure which can be considered shady or against the rules. The Party, whose current President, Shahbaz Sharif, brags about upholding merit, ignored its ‘moral high grounds’ in the said appointments.
The most important selection of the current government, however, was of Absar Alam as the chairman of Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, in 2015. Many allegations were surfaced about the government changing the eligibility criteria for Absar. However, however, the Lahore High Court set his appointment aside in 2017. Another case of nepotism and handpicking was the appointment of Atta ul Haq Qasmi as the chairman of Pakistan Television Corporation in 2015.
Though Qasmi has scores of famous comic serials and has been writing columns for the last 5 decades, his appointment as the head of state-owned channel was seen as a display of favoritism by Nawaz Sharif, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan. Atta ul Haq Qasmi relinquished his post in December 2017 and the apex court is currently looking into the financial benefits he received during his tenure.
Moreover, even before the appointment of PEMRA and PTV chiefs, the government faced the ire of the apex court in 2015, after appointing Shujaat Azeem, a convicted person, as the special assistant to the Prime Minister on the Civil Aviation Authority. Consequently, the Supreme Court barred Shujaat Azeem from working as a minister or taking charge of the CAA. Furthermore, the Supreme Court went on to raise concerns over the appointment of Azeem as an adviser to the PM in the CAA, in 2013, citing his court-martial by the Pakistan Air Force.
PML-N holds a record of appointing officials on the basis of loyalty or favoritism, instead of merit. This has been proved since Ismail Shah, the Chairman of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority, was also dismissed by the Lahore High Court in 2017, on a petition stating that the official was serving at the key position for five years when he was bound to relinquish charge after four years.
Though Qasmi has scores of famous comic serials and has been writing columns for the last 5 decades, his appointment as the head of state-owned channel was seen as a display of favoritism by Nawaz Sharif, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Najam Sethi is another example of the government’s flawed policies, as he was also sacked by the Islamabad High Court, however, he managed to grab the seat again. Instead of relinquishing charge, Najam Sethi amended the constitution of Pakistan Cricket Board and is still holding the reins of the country’s cricket board, while his admirers justify his appointment through his track record.
The recent episode of Khawaja Asif, who was serving as the Foreign Minister and, at the same time, was employed with a UAE based firm, lays bare the principal stance of the party, entangled in legal battles from Supreme Court to the accountability court. As can be seen, there’s a long list of appointments under PML-N ’s current tenure which can be considered shady or against the rules.
The Party, whose current President, Shahbaz Sharif, brags about upholding merit, ignored its ‘moral high grounds’ in the said appointments. Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, the Prime Minister, defended the appointment of Miftah Ismail as the Finance Minister, despite the existence of Rana Afzal, the state Minister of Finance. However, there are too many examples to ignore the level of favoritism and the standards of ruling of PML-N, when it comes to state affairs.