The government went ahead and released the assets details of special assistants and advisers to the prime minister. It was an unprecedented move as unelected officials were not obliged to reveal their assets as they had not sworn oath of office.
The prime minister had directed all cabinet members to make public their personal assets to ensure transparency and accountability, but the government is now on the receiving end after the declarations. At least four special assistants or advisers hold dual nationality while three hold residency permits of other countries. All of them hold vast amounts of wealth and are in charge of key positions.
The prime minister has 15 special assistants and six advisers apart from his extended cabinet. This has created friction among the party members and elected parliamentarians over the decision making powers given to them. Fawad Chaudhry was the first to reveal the discord stating that elected members have the same capabilities but not the responsibilities. The government insists it needs expertise and has replied on these officials more policymaking.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has been receiving heat after the declaration. The government has been accused of backtracking on its earlier claims that duals nationals should not be allowed to hold official posts. The government has been reminded of its ‘Made in Pakistan’ policy and claims that preference will be given to locals in key positions.
The government has defended itself and claimed that only parliamentarians are barred from holding foreign nationalities. In the past, many have been prevented from contesting elections and even disqualified for being dual nationals. The government claims that overseas Pakistani are patriotic, send home remittances, and should be given more opportunity just such the right to vote.
This issue will certainly give the opposition a new issue to the opposition to slam the government. The opposition seems to be reuniting against the government over the floundering economy and the multitude of crises affecting the country. It has also raised questions where multi-millionaire unelected individuals can make policies affecting the poor policies.
It is a welcome step that assets of these individuals are public it should also be investigated how they were acquired. The government should ensure complete transparency and not make promises which it cannot fulfill.