- Is the country moving towards technocracy?
Imran Khan is no more the Interior Minister, despite having clung to the sensitive portfolio for eight months in disregard of the opposition and media’s criticism. It had been argued that the Interior Ministry needed a fulltime minister, as the PM’s job required undivided attention. The PTI loyalist and erstwhile Minister of State for Interior Shehryar Afridi too has been shifted to the SAFRON ministry. Governments in the past had generally ensured that their Interior Minister was a man fully trusted by the Prime Minister. The new Minister, Ijaz Shah, is not new to the party and is an ex military man. Being associated for a fairly long time with security agencies, he might be able to better handle internal security threats that have recently multiplied. But a significant amount of concern has been voiced recently by opposition parties given Shah’s dealings with them and some PTI allies in the past.
The number of technocrats in the new cabinet has risen to eight with the induction of Dr Hafeez Sheikh, Dr Zafarullah Mirza and Babar. If PM’s advisors like Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Naeemul Haq and Zulfi Bukhari are included, the number of the unelected members of the PTI administration rises to 11. This raises the uncomfortable question where the country under the PTI is veering towards a presidential form of governance where under an elected head of the government many technocrats run the ministries. The PM’s neglect of Parliament strengthens the perception
Being an unelected technocrat the new PM’s Finance Adviser will be less constrained in taking unpopular decisions to turn around the economy as he would not have fears of losing a constituency and endangering his political career. Hafeez Sheikh is a well-known economist with experience of looking after the economy gathered under both the PML(Q) and PPP administrations. Working as Sindh Finance Minister he is considered to have made a significant contribution. There are however two opinions about his performance under Prime Minster Yousaf Raza Gilani.