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Why is Shahbaz Gill, PM’s Special Assistant on Political Communication, important?

Dr. Shahbaz Gill is a well-spoken leader of the ruling party. However, his upright political position and anticipated reckless comments may push the government into a politically unwanted situation in the time of COVID-19. So, is Dr. Gill’s appointment as Special Assistant to PM a wise decision?

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Dr. Shahbaz Gill, a prominent political commentator, and leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), has been appointed as Special Assistant on Political Communication to Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan on Wednesday. The appointment seems important in the wake of ongoing political uncertainty in Pakistan. Dr. Gill is known for his upright political position within the party.

According to a notification issued by the Cabinet Division: “The Prime Minister, in terms of rule 4(6) of the Rules of Business, 1973 read with serial No.1 A or Schedule-V-A of the said Rules has been pleased to appoint Dr. Shahbaz Gill as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Political Communication, with immediate effect”.

“The appointment has been made on an honorary basis,” the notification read.

Apart from having a sour relationship with opposition in Punjab, Dr. Gill is known to have developed differences with some leaders within the party. Notably, the Twitter suspended the account of Dr. Shahbaz Gill, while he was serving as spokesperson of Chief Minister of Punjab, apparently after the complaint filed by Muslim League-Nawaz leader Maryam Nawaz for sharing the details of the health of Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif.

Read More: Dr.Shahbaz Gill’s Twitter account suspended upon Maryam Nawaz’s complain

Dr. Gill in his tweet shared the personal health details of former premier Nawaz Sharif to which Maryam Nawaz Sharif objected and filed a complaint to Twitter to suspend his account. Subsequently, his account was suspended temporarily. Later on, the same was restored and verified.

Who is Shahbaz Gill?

Dr. Shahbaz Gill is a Professor/faculty at the University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign and Professor of South Asian Affairs and Business and was deputed to CM Punjab by Prime Minister himself. Dr. Gill initially wanted a position in the center but Imran Khan persuaded him to come to Punjab as he thought that CM Punjab needs a very strong & skillful PR team and it is widely known that Dr. Gill did a fantastic job there.

Dr. Gill was articulate and expressive and on several occasions he kept on spinning the issues to CM Punjab’s favor. Apparently, CM Punjab was threatened by his media presence and was upset of Dr. Gill outshining him and believed that Dr. Gill was far too confident, cocky, and at times even went to great lengths to irritate his opponents just like Federal Minister Fawad Chaudhry.

Gill had resigned as the spokesman to Punjab CM Usman Buzdar in September 2019. “I hereby resign from the post of official spokesperson to Punjab CM,” Gill had written in a hand-written note without specifying any reason.

Some sources believed that the pressure for resignation mounted after Dr. Gill at several media platforms asserted that his boss is “ONLY IMRAN KHAN” and he is only in Punjab because he has been ordered so by his “Kaptaan”.

Naeem-ul-Haq, late leader of the ruling party, while speaking to reporters in Manchester, UK mentioned that Dr. Gill was doing a fine job but certain disagreements with CM Punjab cost him his job, thus proving the rumor that Dr. Gill was forced to resign by the center and the Punjab Govt. and he did not do so of his own free will.

Dr. Gill: can he be a problem for the ruling party?

There is a growing perception in Islamabad that an intense political environment may not benefit PM Imran Khan or his party. Apart from COVID-19, as the FIA and NAB are probing into matters involving some sitting federal ministers and senior leaders of the ruling coalition, any reckless comment may lead to a series of events causing a legitimacy crisis for the government. Analysts believe that in such a critical phase the decision to appoint Dr. Gill who takes an upright position and apparently lacks reconciliatory skills can be dangerous.

Read More: Jahangir Tareen and Shehbaz Gill hit each other through Twitter

GVS learned from sources within the ruling party that some senior leaders did not want Dr. Gill to be appointed as PM’s special assistant at this moment. “PPP and PML-N are looking for an opportunity to initiate anti-government campaign in the time of COVID-19,” a senior party member said. “If Dr. Shahbaz Gill lashes out at the opposition in his own style we are soon going to be in serious trouble,” he feared.