December issue 2002

By | News & Politics | Published 21 years ago

On February 28, 1988, just three months before his unceremonious dismissal, former prime minister, Muhammad Khan Junejo, asked military dictator Zia-ul-Haq to relieve him from an embarrassing predicament by resigning as army chief, citing a conflict of interest in their roles. “As minister of defence, I am your boss,” he stated. “But as president, you are my boss.”

It is too early to speculate whether Jamali will fare better than Junejo in his attempts to run the country under a military leader. For the moment it appears that Jamali is not unwilling to work on President Musharraf’s terms, but unlike Junejo who kept the defence ministry to himself, Jamali has chosen to appoint Rao Sikandar Iqbal, a defector from PPP, as senior minister of defence — a position equal in importance to that of deputy prime minister.

Under the present set-up, General Pervez Musharraf, as chief of the army staff, is expected to work under Iqbal. Rao Sikandar Iqbal is an agriculturist from Okara and a college friend of the President. Given this structuring, Gen Musharraf will be guided by two of his closest friends, one of whom is Tariq Aziz, who after retirement as principal secretary has been retained as secretary to the National Security Council.

In 1988, Iqbal was appointed federal food minister by Benazir Bhutto and in1993, was chosen for the position of state minister for defence. Besides his close friendship with Musharraf, Iqbal also enjoys close family ties with WAPDA Chairman, Lt Gen (retd) Zulfiqar Ali Khan, who also hails from Okara.

Prime Minister Jamali, 59, who was elected leader of the house with a one-vote majority, has twice been chief minister of Balochistan, but his total tenure did not exceed more than two weeks in the first instance and three months on the second. On December 2, 1988, he was elected as chief minister, Balochistan, with the assistance of former prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, by a very slim margin. However, he lost the majority within two weeks and resorted to dissolve the assembly on December 16, 1988. This act was later declared illegal by the Balochistan High Court. He became caretaker chief minister once more,when President Farooq Leghari dismissed Benazir’s government and served a term between November 1996 and February 1997.

A cursory look at the first batch of the 21-member federal cabinet, shows that six of the 10 MNAs, Rao Sikandar Iqbal, Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat, Chaudhry Norez Shakoor, Khalid Ahmad Khan Lund, Rais Munir Ahmed and Raza Hayat Hiraj, who formed the PPP forward bloc at a crucial moment, are not the only defectors in the cabinet. It also includes former members of PPP and PML-N. Only one member, Zubaida Jalal, who was appointed to the post of education minister by Gen Musharraf, has been retained by the PML-Q after winning the National Assembly elections.

Similarly, Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz, who has been appointed advisor to the prime minister, is to continue heading the ministry until he is not elected as a senator and inducted as a minister.

According to the National Accountability Bureau, investigations into the activities of the current Interior Minister and head of Narcotics Control, Makhdoom Syed Faisal Saleh Hayat of the PPP forward bloc, are still continuing. Hayat has remained under NAB detention for a brief period with atleast two cases of corruption still pending against him. He has been acquitted in one case. Hayat is a law graduate, and an industrialist by profession. He owns the Shah Jewna Textile Mills and Shah Jewna Sugar Mills. A cousin of Muslim League leader, Syeda Abida Hussain, the two remain bitter rivals. The defeat of Hussain and her husband, Fakhar Imam in the elections, paved the way for Faisal to associate himself with the PML-Q. In 1988, he served as Benazir Bhutto’s minister for trade and commerce. In 1993, however, when the PPP came to power once again, he was not given any portfolio in the federal cabinet, mainly because his uncle, Khalid Kharal, was appointed information minister. However, Bhutto appointed him senior advisor in Punjab’s senior ministry for home and services, and general administrator in the Punjab cabinet, where he was to keep an eye on the then Punjab Chief Minister, Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo.

Foreign minister, Mian Khurshid Kasuri, although a barrister, is renowned for running chains of educational institutions, among which are Beaconhouse, Educators and Informatics. His father, the late Mian Mahmud Ali Kasuri, was one of the top lawyers of the country, a founding member of the Pakistan People’s Party, and a minister in Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s cabinet, a post he resigned later following differences with Bhutto. The young Kasuri started his political career from Terik-e-Istiqlal. In the 1990 elections, he contested on the ticket of People’s Democratic Alliance, but did not win. Later in1997, he was elected on a PML-N ticket, and remained very close to the then Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif. After Sharif’s ouster, Kasuri joined the PML-Q. One of the contestants for premier this year, Mian Khurshid Kasuri, was handed the powerful foreign affairs ministry as compensation.

Federal Minister for Information and Media Development, Shaikh Rashid Ahmad, is also not a stranger to the ministry. Ahmad hails from Rawalpindi, and takes pride in being a protégé of the army. He also belonged to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s party, and was a cabinet member, holding portfolios of Labour and Manpower, Information, Industries, Sports Culture and Tourism and Investment, under Sharif’s government. A dedicated leader of the PML-N, Ahmad was, during Benazir’s tenure, sentenced to rigorous imprisonment in a kalashnikov case for which he spent two years in jail, from where he also did his masters. Presently, director of Gulmerg Company, his business is in silk and silk yarn production. Ahmad won the elections as an independent, after which he chose to join the PML-Q, and is now one of the leading members of the party.

A former PML-N minister and current Commerce Minister Humayun Akhtar Khan, is also a turncoat. He is the son of General Akhtar Rehman, the main general handling the Afghan war. Abdul Sattar Laleka (PML-Q), Minister Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis, was also agriculture minister in Nawaz’s cabinet.

Other ministers from PML-Q, include Mohammad Nasir Khan for Health, Ghaus Bakhsh Khan Mahr for Railways, and Liaquat Ali Jatoi for Industries and Production. Jatoi is a former Sindh chief minister.

Two portfolios have been awarded to the National Alliance, headed by former President, Sardar Farooq Leghari. Sardar Yar Mohammad Rind is in charge of Food, Agriculture and Livestock, while Awais Ahmad Khan Leghari, has been given the post of Information Technology and Telecommunications. Awais is the son of the former president, Farooq Leghari, and was once the focus of intense media criticism, when his father visited the US to attend his graduation at state expense during his tenure as president.

The induction of Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao of PPP-S, as minister for Water and Power, in addition to looking after inter-provincial coordination, is also interesting, as he is the only member of his party to reach the National Assembly. Former two-time NWFP minister, Sherpao fled the country to avoid facing corruption charges and mysteriously landed in London. He soon returned after being cleared by NAB of all corruption charges against him.

Two of the seven ministers of state, Hamid Yar Khan Hiraj and Raza Hayat Hiraj, are cousins. Both have been elected to the assembly from Khanewal for the first time. A rather comical situation was created when Raza, a member of the PPP forward bloc, was offered a ministry. This ignited much controversy in the family, with Hamid from the PML-Q also demanding a ministry. As a compromise, both have been made state ministers. Others include Khalid Ahmad Khan Lund, Rais Munir Ahmad, Tahir Iqbal, Sikandar Hayat Khan Bosan, and Habibullah Waraich.

Of the four advisers to the prime minister, Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada, who has also served as advisor to Musharraf, has been inducted as senior advisor on Foreign Affairs, Law, Justice and Human Rights with the status of senior federal minister. This move has been designed to help the government out of the on-going controversy over the LFO and to award President Musharraf parliamentary immunity for abrogating the constitution. Nilofar Bakhtiar, a PML-Q leader, has been appointed advisor on Women’s Development, Social Welfare and Special Education. Her nephew has recently married Tariq Aziz’s daughter. Sardar Fateh Ali Umrani is another advisor, whose office is yet to be identified.