Khawaja Asif endorses Bilawal's suggestion to devolve federal ministries to provinces

Web Desk
March 04, 2024

“Empowering district government would reduce burden on the assembly members," PML-N's top leader says

PML-N central leader and former defence minister Khawaja Asif. — Reuters

As Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz President Shehbaz Sharif became the country’s 24th premier as a result of the Pakistan Peoples Party’s backing, the PML-N central leader Khawaja Asif endorsed PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto's suggestion to devolve 10 out of 12 federal ministries to the provinces.

“Federal ministries for education, and health should be shifted to provinces,” Asif proposed while talking to journalists in parliament, and expressed: “Empowering district government would reduce burden on the assembly members.”

He said that the inclusion of the Bilawal-led party, which stood third on the party position list after the 2024 nationwide polls and formed an alliance with the Nawaz-led party to rule the country, in the cabinet was a “good omen” for the new government.

The senior politician was of the view that responsibilities would be divided after three major parties from three provinces became part of the federal cabinet. He also suggested to shrink the next cabinet’s size.

The former defence minister also endorsed the demand of one of its allies, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), for a constitutional amendment to empower the district government of Karachi — the port city and capital of Sindh — following the “strong local governments” pattern of other prominent cities across the globe.

Regarding his nomination for the parliamentary leader’s post, Asif confirmed that his party has chosen him for “a post bigger than any ministry.”

He admitted that it would not be an easy task to take care of all stakeholders to run the next government, as in case of any failure, the coalition partners would also suffer the same political damage alongside the ruling party.

To a question, he refused to give a timeframe for finalising the names of the federal cabinet members.

Elaborating on the PML-N government’s strategy, Asif said that Shehbaz hailed a “viable economic agenda”, which has been prepared with the consultation of economic experts.

“Shehbaz did not make tall claims of travelling by bicycle, converting governor houses into universities, nor did he announce an agenda of creating 10 million jobs, 5 million houses, and cattle and chicken breeding plan,” Asif slammed the former ruling party’s — Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) — programmes which they unveiled under the rule of the ex-premier Imran Khan.

He added that not a single institution opposed steps to eliminate tax and electricity thefts, hinting at the continuation of the measures adopted by the previous government.

Criticising the Imran-founded party, the politico said that the PTI was tabling the same demands as the PML-N raised on the assembly’s floor four years ago but which always remained unanswered by then ruling party and its prime minister Khan.

He also picked apart the PTI demands raised by “such people who had changed their loyalty with several parties like Omar Ayub Khan, who chanted slogans in favour of Nawaz and Shehbaz in past, on the other hand, his party's loyal politicians have been sidelined.”

To another question, he answered that the ruling party will continue to work under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif. He signalled that the party presidency would be handed over to Nawaz.


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