The Strange Cabinet of Pakistan

3 mn read It is very unusual in the history of the country that many newly elected cabinet members are facing cases against them, which include money laundering, drugs cases and corruption cases. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is working on these cases. The allegation has been leveled by the former ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) against the sworn-in federal cabinet comprising Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and its allies that most of cabinet members are those to whom cases have been registered in different eras; currently they are on bail. Before taking oath as Prime Minister, Mian Shahbaz Sharif was at the top of the list among those to whom cases were registered; he has been charged with money laundering. The newly elected Punjab Chief Minister Hamza Shahbaz has also been nominated in the same case (money laundering) moreover CM Punjab is also facing NAB cases i.e. Ashiana Housing Scheme and Clean Water Scheme. Federal Minister for planning and development Ahsan Iqbal, Federal Minister for Railway Khawaja Saad Rafiq, Federal Minister Syed Khursheed Shah are also facing the NAB cases and presently they are on bail. In Khawaja Asif bail case, Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP), in its remarks, mentioned that NAB is being used as a tool for political engineering to change the loyalties of politicians. NAB has filed a petition against these remarks in SCP as NAB is a prosecutor against Federal Minister Khawaja Asif. Members of Federal Cabinet Ayaz Sadiq, Khuram Dastgeer, Rana Sanaullah, Shahzain Bugti, Abdul Qadir Petail, Rana Tanveer Hussain are also accused for involvement in different criminal and civil litigations. Federal Minister for Interior Rana Sana Ullah, is facing a drug smuggling case, while Ayaz Sadiq, Rana Tanveer Hussain, Maryam Nawaz are facing attack on police contingent and NAB building attack lawsuit. Similarly, some cabinet members of former ruling party Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf were also liable for different sorts of allegations during their tenure. Cases were registered against former Defense Minister Pervaiz Khattak, former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qurashi, former Human Rights Minister Sheri Mazari, former Education Minister Shafqat Mehmod, former provincial education minister Aleem Khan and Shoukat Yousofzai; allegedly they were involved on attack on parliament house and Pakistan Television (PTV) building in Islamabad in 2014 during PTI sit-in. EAT News talked to former attorney general Irfan Qadir on this issue to know what actually law and constitution of Pakistan says on the above-mentioned issue. Mr. Irfan Qadir said that there is no provision in the constitution and law of Pakistan, which prevents any person from holding public office just because of the registration of cases. He said “according to the constitution of Pakistan, if there are serious cases against any person but no crime has been proved against him, then he is innocent and he can not only participate in elections but he cannot be stopped from holding any public office. Now even the children of Pakistan know that the cases against the leaders of different political parties are of political nature and the conviction rate in such political cases is almost non-existent”. Mr. Qadir told EAT News that in the past, cases were registered against renowned political families of the country for stealing buffaloes and entering livestock fields and damaging crops just to defame them. Some cases were registered against former Prime Minister Imran Khan and several members of PTI in 2014 but still pending in anti-terrorism courts. The former attorney general said that if a person is found guilty in a case during his tenure in the ministry, then his membership in the National Assembly or the Senate is terminated, as a result of which he cannot hold public office. If a Member Parliament was convicted in a case, he could not run in the elections for five years and could not hold any public office. If a case is registered against government employees/ servants, they cannot remain in office till they are acquitted by the court in said case. Asim Tanveer, an advocate who has worked in the prosecution branch told EAT News, “if cases against a politician have been registered by his political opponents, then those cases become meaningless when the party of the victim comes to power”. Despite claims by ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan that many members of the recently appointed federal cabinet were either under investigation or on bail in billion-dollar corruption cases, his government failed to secure convictions against 100 high-profile individuals through the federal anti-graft body. Despite spending over half a billion rupees targeting senior political opponents, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was unsuccessful to make any significant recoveries of the billions that the previous prime minister alleged were plundered from the country. NAB and the Asset Recovery Unit, led by Imran Khan’s former Special Assistant on Accountability and Interior Shahzad Akbar, failed to build cases against alleged corruption masterminds such as Shahbaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari and bring back wealth that was allegedly laundered back to the country, the accountability efforts consumed around Rs18 billion in public funds. After the success of the no-confidence motion against former Prime Minister Imran Khan, the coalition government formed its own federal cabinet.   A total of 44 members have been announced in the federal cabinet, including 34 federal ministers, 5 ministers of state, 3 Special Assistants to the Prime Minister and 2 advisers to the Prime Minister.

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Muhammad Farhan Niazi is a correspondent for Eat News in Pakistan and is an experienced senior producer with a demonstrated history of working in the media production industry. Skilled in feature and news writing, non-linear editing, radio, multimedia journalism, Online journalism, film production, and sound. Strong media and communication professional graduated from University of Peshawar.

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Eat News is a Taiwanese digital media, analyzes current events and issues through column articles, videos, visual aid, and exclusive interviews.
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