Stories about minister

I know a secret: Loyalties and limousines

Federal Minister Shahbaz Bhatti may have survived the attempt on his life last weekend, had his pleas for better security, in particular a bullet proof car and a house in the Ministers’ Enclave been heeded. While some cronies of the man on the hill have been given bullet proof cars, without holding any cabinet portfolio. ************************************************ Elections to the Lahore High Court Bar, the biggest associations of lawyers in the country in terms of membership, were held on the last Saturday of February.  The contest was between Muhammad Asghar Gill and Rai Bashir.  Gill won by over 1,562 votes polling 4,172 votes. ...

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Ethnic rift rocks G-B government

Corruption is contagious – this is what Gilgit-Baltistan Chief Minister Mehdi Shah proved when he and other members of his government were accused of violating the principle of merit in terms of appointments, postings and transfers, along with the arbitrary suspension of employees in different departments. Despite the ban on appointments in G-B, a large number of people, PPP activists in particular, have been appointed in different positions seemingly through the backdoor. In a recent incident, the provincial Finance Minister Muhammad Ali Akhtar was manhandled by the adviser to the CM, Muhammad Musa, and was warned by Education Minister Ali Madad ...

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Skeletons in the Cabinet: A reshuffle that makes no sense

After almost three years of unprecedented failures, the government finally overhauled the Cabinet this week. Or has it? The new and improved ‘small’ cabinet includes  a lot of old faces but there have been plenty of surprises – and they have been shockers. Ministry for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, of heera mandi attack fame, who is often called to talk shows when a little ghunda element is needed has been given the Information and Broadcasting Ministry. Dr Awan is now responsible for ‘handling’ the media, and tactfully explaining the government’s policies and defending it’s mistakes. From now on, after every single cabinet ...

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What really goes on in the Sindh Assembly

In June 2010, legislators from the Sindh Assembly zealously thumped their desks after passing a bill for the establishment of the “Sindh Revenue Board” to collect sales tax on services. While covering the story, I was surprised to know that a majority of legislators were not even aware of the bill’s significance; they didn’t know the difference between tax on services and tax on goods. One of the MPAs went on to say, “We have no idea about the bill; it is enough that we have supported it.” And I can assure these were the exact words of the lawmaker, who ...

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Sialkot’s neglected journalists

Sialkot, the city of eagles, is proud to have produced many prominent politicians of the country. Of course, its most illustrious son was Allama Muhammad Iqbal but in recent years, it has given rise to many a prominent politician. One of them, of late, is Firdous Ashiq Awan, the current information minister. Many journalists from the city supported her during her rise to political office, in large part because she was a local politician and in part because they believed that having an information minister from their city could help in some of their own many problems as journalists. For ...

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Balochistan government, sleeping through its term

As a journalist I usually visit the Provincial Secretariat and have hardly ever found any minister present in his office, even though the current Balochistan government retains the biggest cabinet in the province’s history. Barring three, all the other MPAs on the treasury benches have portfolios, residential accommodations, phone and a fleet of cars though officially permitted to retain one. Looking at the Balochistan ministers’ life styles, it seems as though Pakistan faces no economic crisis at all. The only opposition member, Yar Mohammad Rind has never attended an Assembly session except for the day he was administered the oath. On the other ...

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WikiLeaks 2.0: Full marks for Gilani, Shahbaz strikes out

So far a few hundred cables have been released – this is out of approximately 250,000 that WikiLeaks say will be eventually released. Newspapers, television channels, blog sites and other sources of information and media dissemination are having a field day, both in Pakistan as well as overseas with the wealth of information that has come out. The head of Russia’s intelligence service has said that the cables provide a “treasure trove” of information and that his analysts will go through them in detail. Meanwhile Israel is gloating that its stance on many things is the same, both in public ...

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Cleanliness: Another dream for Lahore

Shahbaz Sharif, our chief minister, has said he wants to see Lahore become as clean and presentable as Istanbul. The statement is music to my ears, weary as I have been growing of stereotyped statements reeking of hatred and violence. Given the oppressive atmosphere created by these, this one came as a breath of fresh air. But then I remembered some more statements of a bygone era and then some more – the declarations about beautifying Lahore. One I remember particularly well was an announcement that Lahore would be turned into Paris. And it was not a single Punjab minister ...

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Why Babar Awan chose to shut up

A friend of mine recently sent me this clip of Babar Awan’s interview on one of my favorite shows Point Blank hosted by Mubashir Lucman. In the show the federal law minister uses a weapon that many politicians don’t know how to use against the media -the power of silence. One of my instructors at the Connecticut School of Broadcasting used to tell the class that “silence is death of the broadcast media.” I believe that it was a slight miscalculation on Lucman’s part that gave Awan the opportunity to utilize the potent weapon of silence. Lucman put forth a few questions to Awan ...

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Gilani’s speech: Meet the obfuscators

On a Sunday night, Prime Minister Gilani came on prime time television at about 8:30 pm to deliver a much-anticipated address to the nation. It contained a half-hour of monotone sentences harkening to a few ‘golden eras’ in our country’s history and was delivered with as much gusto and verve as an anecdote by a comatose Mitch Hedberg. For the first time, we have had the prime minister address the nation while flanked by ‘representatives’ from all the provinces. The simple act of overdoing this show of unity and strength shows that the government has definitely been affected by the ...

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