Prime Minister Imran Khan is expected to announce a cabinet reshuffle as soon as next Monday, potentially replacing several ministers and picking up some new faces as he is reportedly not happy with some key ministers’ performance and has already conveyed that only those would stay in the cabinet who can deliver.
Despite testing positive for Covid-19 a few days ago, the prime minister has conducted different meetings, gauged the performance of ministers, deliberated upon swapping portfolios of several cabinet members, mulled over the names of new lawmakers that are to be included in the cabinet and, finally, pondered over who will be replaced.
“Prime Minister will announce the changes made in the federal cabinet by next Monday,” Senator Shibli Faraz told The Express Tribune. The Senator said that discussions were still underway as to whose portfolio should be replaced with whom and why. “Performance is the parameter,” he said, adding that potential was the other factor.
Faraz, who held the portfolio of information ministry before his term as a senator was completed and after he took a fresh oath being elected again earlier, said that the premier has also decided to give a chance to some new faces.
“Three-to-four new people are expected to be given state-minister level portfolios,” Faraz said, adding that lawmakers in the assembly are likely to be given a chance. He refrained himself from revealing the names, saying that the premier would do by next Monday.
On March 1, it was reported that the federal cabinet was expected to undergo a reshuffle after the much-anticipated Senate elections.
Party sources had revealed that performance and delivery were the only things that the premier was interested in as he felt exhausted by hearing excuse after excuse and projects suffering inordinate delays in completion for one reason or another for a long time.
“It’s time to deliver and the prime minister has this realisation,” a key federal minister had revealed while requesting anonymity. “Frustration is growing within the party circles and the premier strongly believes that the ministers must start delivering without coming up with excuses,” the minister had said.
“The threshold for staying in the cabinet is performance,” the minister said, adding that “heads will roll after Senate polls”.
The reshuffle is likely against a backdrop of the declining popularity of the ruling party, performance in the by-elections and losing ground to opposition parties and voters expressing their disapproval with the government’s economic policies.
In between the Senate elections and the upcoming cabinet reshuffle, political scenario was changed to the extent that even the prime minister had to take a vote of confidence from the National Assembly after the incumbent Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh lost the federal capital’s seat in the Senate elections to the joint candidate of the opposition alliance – Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – ex-PM Yousaf Raza Gilani, despite a clear majority in the House.
The ruling party made a comeback in the elections of the Senate chairman and deputy chairman when the government-backed incumbent Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and deputy chairman Mirza Muhammad Afridi defeated Gillani and JUI-F’s Maulana Abdul Ghafoor Haideri, respectively.
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Gillani was defeated when the presiding officer, Senator Muzaffar Hussain Shah, rejected seven votes while Haideri’s defeat was a result of the opposition lawmakers’ decision to cast their vote in favour of Afridi.
Apart from the cabinet reshuffle, the premier is likely to change some of his special assistants and advisors. Since 2018 when PTI came to power, the premier has reshuffled cabinet on a number of occasions.
Before coming to power, PM Imran was in favour of keeping a small cabinet. However, after coming to power, he ended up with a big one and now the cabinet comprises roughly 50 members, which include federal and state ministers, special assistants, and advisers.