‘Culture minister being sidelined’
* Shaukat Bhatti not told about chief minister’s plans to reconstitute LAC board
By Anjum Gill
LAHORE: Punjab Culture Minister Shaukat Bhatti was kept in the dark about the reconstitution of the Lahore Art Council’s board of governors. This is not the first time the minister has not been informed about events in his department, sources told Daily Times on Thursday.
On May 31, Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi reconstituted an 18-member LAC board with former Punjab chief secretary Javed Ahmed Qureishi in the chair for three years. When contacted, the minister’s office had no information about the board.
Mr Bhatti had put the reconstitution of the LAC board on the agenda for Tuesday’s monthly meeting. The agenda was circulated by LAC Executive Secretary Syed Hamid Shah three days prior to the meeting, but Mr Bhatti appeared not to have been kept abreast of developments. The meeting scheduled for Tuesday was cancelled.
The sources said the summary for the reconstitution was moved by Punjab Culture Secretary Taimur Azmat Usman to the chief minister. “A secretary moving a summary directly to the chief minister in the presence of his minister is a violation of rules of business. It is bypassing him,” the sources said.
“Though postings and transfers of officers of Grade-19 and above are approved by the chief minister, the summary for such a move has to go through the minister. However, Mr Bhatti was kept in the dark when Lahore Museum director Liaqat Ali Niazi was transferred and Gulzar Mushhadi appointed in his place. The minister was not informed about Archaeology Director General Farzana Qureshi’s appointment either.”
Neither was Mr Bhatti informed when a summary was moved and approved by the chief minister for the Institute of Punjabi Language and Literature.
The sources said the ‘hidden differences’ between the chief minister and culture minister stem from last year, when five members of the Bhatti family, including the culture minister, from Hafizabad handed in their resignations from the national and provincial assemblies. The Bhattis apparently felt that their minister’s orders were not given due consideration in the Punjab government and their supporters were not accommodated in postings and transfers at the federal level.
The sources said the chief minister and other senior PML-QA leaders had to resolve the issue by giving the Bhattis assurances that their requests would be heard. “The same situation has arisen again. But the government is now stronger than it was last year.”
The Punjab government is also to notify the reconstitution of the Punjab Council of the Arts board.
The previous LAC board was dissolved before it completed its three-year term in April this year.