The prime minister has been often criticized for having an extended cabinet including several advisers and special assistants. There has been a stiff tussle among the party members that these unelected officials have taken over policymaking.
This was revealed when maverick Science Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the elected officials have similar capabilities to make these decisions. He had expressed displeasure that state of affairs are being run by advisers who were not elected and hence unanswerable to the public. He said politicians were responsible to their constituents and should be priortised in official decision making.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has hired these advisers and special assistants to bring skilled expertise and to confine elected representatives to legislation. Many of them were experts in their fields, had vast experience and were capable to serve their positions. They faced several bureaucratic hurdles, red-tapism, and constant criticism.
This intensified after the government in an unprecedented decision released their asset details. Most of them were multi-millionaires, had vast amount of properties, and at least four of them had dual citizenship. Many decried that this was against the vision of the prime minister who has been a vocal critic of foreign nationals holding key positions.
The prime minister faced a setback when two of his aides announced they were stepping down from their positions. The first was Tania Aidrus, the special assistant on Digital Pakistan. The appointment of the former Google executive was met with optimism to lead the vision for a digital future. However, it was revealed that she was a Canadian national and also permanent residency in Singapore. She eventually resigned over the criticism surrounding her nationality.
The next to leave was the PM’s aide on health services Dr Zafar Mirza, who said he had left a plump post at the World Health Organisation (WHO) and was resigning due to the controversy surrounding the role of special assistants. It is unsure when others might be forced to step down or be shown the exit door.
The prime minister made efforts to bring skilled workers but usual politics by party members and allies to get coveted positions has pushed them aside. There also raised questions whether overseas Pakistanis are patriotic and can serve the nation. The most skilled and capable person for a job should be selected rather than a career politician to bring reforms in a vital sector.