–Although govt has rejected ‘rumours’ of reshuffle in cabinet, sources claim ministries of finance, interior and petroleum are likely to get new ministers
–Sources say Asad Umar’s fate will likely be decided by Sept after conclusion of FATF and APG reviews
ISLAMABAD: It seems as if the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government is up for another political storm as consultation process has begun for an overhaul in the federal cabinet and Prime Minister Imran Khan is mulling various options for shuffling his team to help transform it into a vibrant and reform-driven outfit.
Sources in the federal cabinet told Pakistan Today that the premier is not impressed with the performance of around half a dozen cabinet ministers and some of them are being offered other portfolios while others are to be shown the door for the appointment of new horses to improve the government’s performance.
“Major issue before the prime minister is that the incumbent team is not delivering and most of the cabinet members have failed in bringing reforms and structural changes. This is why the prime minister wants to shuffle the cabinet,” a source privy to the ongoing discussions said.
However, he added that no cabinet shuffle is likely to be made in the next fortnight and rather the prime minister would make up his mind after having a quarterly review of the performance of various ministries after his visits to Iran and China.
“Any decision is likely to be made in the first or second week of May or by June. The prime minister is closely monitoring the performance of Asad Umar and he would be given ample time to conclude his talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Once the deal is clinched, his fate would be decided,” the source added.
The source said that Asad Umar may survive this challenge again as the government has to prepare for the upcoming budget while he is also a part of the dialogue with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Asia Pacific Group (APG) on money laundering, a subordinate body of FATF.
“Any decision on Asad Umar is likely to be made by September this year – once the review of FATF and APG has concluded. Pakistan has to fight its case on anti-money laundering and terror-financing forums. Hence, Asad Umar looks safe for the time being,” the source added.
WHOSE JOB IS ON THE LINE?
Another source told Pakistan Today that the prime minister is unhappy with most of his cabinet members, including Minister for Petroleum Ghulam Sarwar Khan, Minister for Health Amer Mehmood Kayani, Minister for Information Technology Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Minister for Aviation Mohammedmian Soomro, Minister for National Food Security Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan, Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi and others. Finance Minister Asad Umar is also on the red line.
The source said that in this regard, PM Imran’s close aides were contacting the ministers concerned and they were being offered options for replacement of the cabinet slots.
“Shehryar Afridi has been offered two options – Ministry of Health and Ministry of Aviation. He is likely to be made full minister if he opts any of the two,” the source said.
A source in the federal government said that replacing Shehryar Afridi may trigger an anti-PTI move as his possible replacement is said to be Brig (r) Ijaz Shah, a controversial personality.
Shah was listed by former prime minister Benazir Bhutto as one of the prime suspects in her possible assassination. He is also accused of having links with proscribed outfits, which may negatively affect Pakistan’s efforts to avoid being blacklisted by the FATF.
GOVT DENIES ANY RESHUFFLE:
Meanwhile, the federal government has rejected reports of a major reshuffling in the bureaucracy and federal cabinet, including removal of Finance Minister Umar.
PM House’s spokesperson and Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry reiterated that Asad Umar is not being removed from his ministry.
“It is prime minister’s privilege to change or remove any minister,” PM House spokesperson Nadeem Afzal Chan said, adding that but this time there is no truth in these reports.
“The premier regularly analyzes the performance of every minister during the federal cabinet meeting,” the spokesperson said.
Further, Information Minister Fawad also rejected the reports of the reshuffle.