In the most recent reshuffle, Dost Mohammad Khosa, the former CM of Punjab was “demoted” from the coveted Local Government Ministry. The reasons are off course to pursue good governance in Punjab, but the following report from Dawn raises points of interference of Dost in a road construction project in Muzaffargarh that apparently annoyed the Khadim-e-Aala of Punjab. Dost’s interference was ignored and substandard material was used in road construction.
Dost slips down in list of friends?
By Amjad Mahmood
Dawn, July, 2, 2010
LAHORE, July 1: The ‘demotion’ of Dost Muhammad Khosa, the son of senior Muslim Leaguer Sardar Zulfikar Ali Khan Khosa who remained loyal to the Sharifs during the oppressive Musharraf regime, has set the tongues wagging.
To acknowledge the senior Khosa’s services for the party (read Sharifs), Dost (literally meaning friend) was chosen as stopgap arrangement for the coveted slot of the provincial chief executive when the PML-N (against the expectations of all) emerged as the single largest party in Punjab in the February 2008 general election.
Shahbaz Sharif could not take part in the polls as his papers were rejected. He made it to the Punjab Assembly after the Bhakkar by-polls held in May. Until then the junior Khosa served as a trusted lieutenant of the party leadership, though Shahbaz was the de facto chief minister taking all important and not-so-important decisions in the province.
As Shahbaz formally took charge of the Punjab affairs, Dost was made minister for local bodies, one of the most important portfolios. It did not take long when differences started to surface between the present incumbent and the former chief minister on running the local government department, officials said.
Dost complained of being ‘powerless’ as the local government secretary was directly reporting to Shahbaz, ignoring even harmless directives of the minister like transfer of low-grade employees.
He took up the matter with Shahbaz a couple of months ago and, failing to find a positive response, tendered his resignation. It was not accepted. However, the minister stopped joining the office and, by absenting himself, even avoided to represent his department in the assembly session.
Some bureaucrats, however, reveal another story. They claim that Shahbaz was annoyed at the ‘interference’ of Dost in a Muzaffargarh road project which allegedly resulted in the use of substandard material.
So came further ‘demotion’ of Dost as he was named the other day minister for commerce and industry, a negligible portfolio. No new minister has so far been announced for the local government.
The bureaucrats also say food minister Malik Nadeem Kamran was also replaced as he had irritated his boss earlier by differing with him on certain appointments in his department and on the wheat procurement drive. Being a friend of Dost became another negative point of the politician from Sahiwal, they say.
What is difficult to understand is ‘pro motion’ of Chaudhry Abdul Ghafoor from being prisons minister to the food department in-charge. The Chaudhry, who says the late Mian Sharif had been calling him his fourth son, has been active in earning negative publicity for the party earlier in a case of attempting to hit a woman MPA of the opposition during an assembly session. Consequently, he was barred from joining the house proceedings for some days.
In another case, he allegedly misbehaved with Customs officials at the Lahore airport. An inquiry committee later exonerated him of the charge as media reports alleged that the minister was helping his friends coming from Bangkok to smuggle in some precious things.
The Punjab government claims that the reshuffle has been necessitated owing to bad performance of the ministers. The question is whether the one who fails to come up to the expectations of the party in one department can be able to perform in the other. Usually, new faces are brought forth to replace the inefficient ones but the PML-N has shunned this course. Has its leadership run short of trusted aides or is hesitant to try new lieutenants from around 171strong force of MPAs in the Punjab Assembly?