Federal cabinet to be reshuffled
Gen (r) Qazi to get Interior, Gen (r) Saeed-uz-Zafar Communications,
Gen (r) Zulfiqar Water and Power, Moin Sindh governorship
Pro-Musharraf national alliance comprising Leghari, Jatoi, Imran,
Qadri, Asghar Khan, Mumtaz Bhutto in the offing
By Rana Qaisar
ISLAMABAD: Changes in the federal cabinet are on the cards, say sources, so that General Pervez Musharraf can get a tighter rein on power in the run-up to the general elections in October. This will involve some ministers quitting the cabinet to take part in the elections while others will be shunted around to make the government more effective.
But sources said there is no possibility of a national government to supervise and oversee the October elections. “The first resignation is expected to be tendered by the federal minister for Kashmir Affairs, Abbas Sarfraz, who a couple of months ago had hinted that he would resign in May or June to pursue his political career,” the sources said.
It is also thought that the federal minister for communications and railways, General Javed Ashraf Qazi, may shunt to the interior ministry and the secretary railways and communications, Saeed-uz-Zafar, may take over the ministry. Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Moinuddin Haider may go to Sindh as governor if the government decides not to opt for Mumtaz Bhutto. The current WAPDA chairman, General Zulfiqar Ali Khan, is expected to become the minister for water and power in this reshuffle.
Sources said changes were also expected in the provincial cabinets, as several provincial ministers with political background have reportedly conveyed their intentions to contest the elections. Earlier, Omar Asghar Khan had resigned to form a political party. Sources said several local government representatives were also expected to contest the elections at the national and provincial levels. “The district nazim of Multan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, is on top of this list,” the sources said.
In addition, sources were speculating that Finance Minister Shaukat Aziz would probably contest the National Assembly elections. They said Mr Aziz might opt for ‘direct election’ to ensure his candidacy for ‘the top slot in the next national government’.
Sources hinted at a constituency in Narowal, adding that Mr Aziz may also contest as a candidate from the Islamabad Capital Territory, which has been given an additional National Assembly seat.
Rumours have been making the rounds in political and diplomatic circles about the finance minister’s appointment as an interim prime minister; however, the government has ruled out the possibility of an interim government to oversee the elections.
Pro-Musharraf National alliance in the offing: In a parallel development sources claimed that the government has succeeded in herding several small parties and groups to form a national alliance for the purposes of contesting the forthcoming general elections on a pro-Musharraf platform. Among the leading members of this proposed national alliance are Farooq Leghari’s Millat Party, Imran Khan’s Tehreek i Insaf, Mumtaz Bhutto’s Sindh Democratic Alliance (SDA), Tahir ul Qadri’s Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT), Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi’s National Peoples Party (NPP) and Asghar Khan’s Qaumi Jamhoori Party (QJP).
This coalition is expected to be announced soon.
Sources told Daily Times that many of the leaders of these groups were already assembled in Islamabad and were holding parleys to determine who would be who in the national alliance.
Meanwhile, the government is said to be pushing for the reunification of all factions of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML), minus the Nawaz Sharif-led group, and leaders of all party factions in have been busy meeting one another in Islamabad in the last few days. Sources said, “These activities are directed towards the formation of a grand national alliance which is expected to emerge soon.