hould cabinets be big or small?
The PPP government has finally filled the posts of ministers lying vacant since it took power. Amid loud complaints by critics about “vacant ministries”, twenty more ministers have been included in what is perceived as the first expansion of the cabinet after the PMLN ministers resigned over the lawyers’ movement demands and the inability of the two to abide by a written agreement over them. It is expected that the cabinet will finally be a large one and the rules of induction will be based on politics rather than competence. Hence, why beef about small cabinets?
The critics have been doggedly rebuking Prime Minister Gilani for not completing his cabinet. For those looking for reasons for calling the PPP government a “do-nothing” government, it was a good handle. But now that the cabinet has swelled, the same critics have started complaining about the tradition of “mammoth” cabinets. The Musharraf government had a mammoth cabinet, so did the earlier governments. Everybody knows that at a given time just a few good ministers do their work; others allow things to slide. In Pakistan, it is moot whether the ministries function better without ministers or with them. But coalition governments, by definition are bloated, and civilian dispensations by definition are less efficient than military ones. So let us not carp about such things. *