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The New Federal Ministers, that I know personally.

August 19, 2023 at 11:27 am | Economic Affairs

By Qamar Bashir

In a significant development for Pakistan, a caretaker Cabinet has been sworn in by the President. This diverse assembly, composed of 16 ministers and three advisors, marks a departure from conventional political structures, instead favoring a blend of technocrats, retired bureaucrats, IT experts, business figures, a select few politicians, and eminent individuals.

With a prominent mandate to uplift the nation’s economic and financial landscape, enhance business appeal, attract trade and investment, and pave the way for forthcoming free and fair elections, this Cabinet’s formation heralds a pivotal chapter in Pakistan’s journey toward stability and progress.

With a prominent mandate to uplift the nation’s economic and financial landscape, enhance business appeal, attract trade and investment, and pave the way for forthcoming free and fair elections, this Cabinet’s formation heralds a pivotal chapter in Pakistan’s journey toward stability and progress.

Mr. Murtaza Solangi, the newly-appointed federal minister for the Ministry of Information and broadcastings, brings a wealth of experience and dedication to his role. A close friend of the former president and co-chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party Asif Ali Zardari, his deep-rooted association with the party underscores his commitment.

With a seasoned background in media, he has proven himself as a diligent worker and held the esteemed position of Director General Pakistan Radio (Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation) in the previous PPP government. I was working at that time as Director media and had frequent interactions with him. I found him a thorough gentleman, an intellectual and the one who has a greater understanding of the country’s political landscape and its complexities.

His efforts to enhance the radio’s standing were well-received by employees, reflecting his dedication to progress. Serving as an advisor on Media Affairs to the former President and a prominent anchorperson on a national TV network, his analytical insights have earned him recognition as a commentator on both national and international issues.

Mr. Solangi’s profound understanding of the media landscape instills optimism that his leadership will yield positive outcomes for the Ministry of Information, broadcasting, and the broader media landscape.

Mr. Jalil Abbas Jilani’s appointment to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a testament to his exceptional leadership and experience in various capacities within the ministry.

Mr. Jamal Shah, a distinguished artist, sculptor, educationist, and intellectual, has been rightfully appointed as a member of the newly sworn-in cabinet. His deep passion for art and culture in the country has been a driving force throughout his remarkable journey. I had the privilege of a personal connection. He is my city fellow. I was a student in the University of Balochistan in 1983-85  when in collaboration with his former wife, Faryal Gohar, he established an art section at the University.

His elder brother was my colleague when I was news producer in PTV from 1986 to 1991 until I joined superior services of Pakistan. During this period, Jamal Shah was at the peak of his artistic career. 

His serious and contemplative nature, evident even then, has carried forward to his role as Director General of the Pakistan National Council of Arts, where he made significant strides in elevating the arts community which further exemplifies his commitment to nurturing artistic talent.

Later, I witnessed his artistic growth when he was sponsored by the French embassy to explore art and culture in Paris, France—an experience that enriched both his perspective and my own. During my tenure as part of the Pakistan embassy in France, our interactions were frequent, and we even travel together and me as a driver.

He fostered artists of diverse genres, establishing an art gallery in the heart of F9 Park that attracts a steady stream of visitors who revel in the showcased paintings and sculptures.

His altruistic spirit shines as he actively engages in philanthropy, raising funds to aid those affected by both human-made and natural crises. Mr. Jamal Shah’s stellar reputation as an artist was solidified through his lead roles in numerous dramas and serials, contributing to their success.

This appointment is a commendable choice, and I am optimistic that his visionary efforts will bring Pakistan’s art and culture onto the international stage with resounding success.

Dr. Shamshad Hussain, a distinguished member of the newly elected cabinet, brings a wealth of experience and dedication to her role.

Mr. Umar Saif’s appointment as the Federal Minister of Information Technology appears to be a fitting choice, given his impressive track record. His notable contributions in establishing various IT institutions across Punjab, along with his leadership in government process automation, have been revolutionary.

From enhancing sectors like education, agriculture, health, taxation, to innovating land management systems and public services, his initiatives have significantly benefited the public.

His instrumental role in introducing Punjab and Islamabad city applications for mobile and desktop platforms, offering a wide range of services online, showcases his commitment to modernizing citizen services.

Moreover, his success in establishing IT incubation centers and assembling a proficient team of experts has undoubtedly elevated service quality.

My first interaction with Mr. Saif was him as a teacher and me as a student. He conducted a workshop during our training as Senior Management Course in Lahore where we got the chance to interact with this legend personally. During the short workshop he taught the trainees to develop applications on the smartphones and on desktops which further highlight his prowess.

With his appointment by the caretaker prime minister, there is hope and anticipation for continued success and advancements in the field of information technology, which could lead the country to earn commendable recognition.

Mr. Ahmad Irfan Aslam’s appointment to the law portfolio in the newly sworn-in federal cabinet brings in a wealth of experience and expertise. I know him personally as a colleague when he was serving as a Commercial Counselor at the embassy of Pakistan to France and me as a press minister. We used to have a  lot of discussions about everything under the sun. His capabilities were recognized early on, even though he wasn’t from the superior services of the country.

Mr. Ahmad Irfan Aslam’s appointment to the law portfolio in the newly sworn-in federal cabinet brings in a wealth of experience and expertise.

His close association with the former Attorney General, Mr. Ashtar Ausaf, speaks to his credibility. His pivotal role in the Reqo Dik case, where he transitioned from his post in Paris to become a lead lawyer, demonstrates his commitment and adaptability. Even in capacity as a lead lawyer, he visited Paris several times and we exchanged notes on various issues of mutual interests.

His relative youth and limited experience compared to seasoned lawyers, Mr. Aslam’s creativity, ingenuity and  deep understanding of the law, position him as a valuable asset.

His contributions are poised to enhance the Ministry of Law and the pursuit of justice both nationally and on the international stage. His appointment stands as a testament to the caretaker prime minister’s excellent judgment.

Mr. Jalil Abbas Jilani’s appointment to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a testament to his exceptional leadership and experience in various capacities within the ministry. His journey, culminating in leading the ministry as secretary during challenging times, reflects his unwavering commitment.

I recall a memorable encounter in London where I as director Media to the President and was a part of his entourage to attend the tripartite summit  with former President Asif Ali Zardari, British Prime Minister and Afghan President, where Mr. Jilani’s pivotal role ensured the success of the meeting held at the British Prime Minister’s winter camp office.

His flawless tenure as secretary and achievements therein are a source of pride for the foreign service of Pakistan. A seasoned and composed individual, he exudes authority on international and foreign affairs, an attribute accentuated by his think tank engagements.

With burning foreign issues at hand, Mr. Gilani’s profound understanding, seasoned diplomacy, and adeptness as a diplomat are poised to steer the country towards positive outcomes, making a remarkable global impact. His ability to foster business, trade, and investment will be instrumental in achieving Pakistan’s diplomatic goals.

An all-around remarkable choice, it’s anticipated that Mr. Jilani’s success will leave an indelible mark on the nation’s foreign endeavors. His selection is indeed excellent, given his non-controversial nature.

Dr. Shamshad Hussain, a distinguished member of the newly elected cabinet, brings a wealth of experience and dedication to her role. With an illustrious career that includes her tenure as the Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan, she has demonstrated unwavering commitment, resolute determination, and a strong work ethic. Her reputation as a thorough professional is well-deserved, underlined by her legendary grasp of financial matters and macroeconomic tools. Her remarkable achievements during her time as Governor have left an indelible mark on the nation’s economic landscape.

In various meetings where I was also a participant, her profound insights and strategic acumen have consistently stood out, reflecting her unparalleled expertise. As she takes on her new responsibilities, there is no doubt that her presence will continue to be a driving force for positive change and progress in the cabinet and beyond.

Mir Sarfraz Bugti, born on June 1, 1981, is the son of Mir Ghulam Qadir Masori Bugti. While he hails from my province and city, he is younger than me in terms of seniority.

He emerged as a trailblazer in the middle-class movement against tribal Sardars, eventually carving his path as a prominent political figure through sheer merit. His journey led him to serve as the Minister of Balochistan for Home and Tribal Affairs. Later, he gained the position of a senator in Pakistan, further attesting to his popularity and influence.

Notably, Bugti’s political journey began when he secured victory in the Provincial Assembly elections, representing Constituency PB-24. His ascent continued as he assumed the role of Minister of Interior for Balochistan on October 14, 2013.

In this capacity, he vocally opposed separatist organizations and classified the Balochistan Republic Army as a terrorist entity. Bugti’s formative years included education at the prestigious Lawrence College, Murree, where he actively engaged in debates and exhibited a passion for sports.

Leveraging his extensive experience as Balochistan’s Minister for Interior and his adept handling of perceived insurgencies, Bugti is poised to employ his expertise to restore normalcy in Balochistan and across the nation.

The writer is former Press Secretary to the President of Pakistan, former Press Minister to the Embassy of Pakistan to France, and former MD, SRBC.

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