Three members of former Shehbaz-led cabinet still in caretaker govt

Umar Cheema

Fahd Haroon, Maulana Tahir Ashrafi and Jawad Sohrab Malik. — APP/X/@PAKPIPS/@JawadSohrab
Fahd Haroon, Maulana Tahir Ashrafi and Jawad Sohrab Malik. — APP/X/@PAKPIPS/@JawadSohrab
  • Cheema was adviser to Shehbaz Sharif on Establishment Division.
  • ECP removed him to ensure neutrality of interim government.
  • Maulana Tahir Ashrafi retains portfolio in centre despite govt change.

ISLAMABAD: While the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has ordered the removal of Ahad Cheema from the caretaker government because he served in the Shehbaz Sharif government, three members of the latter’s cabinet, who are also part of the interim administration, go unnoticed. 

Ahad Cheema was adviser to PM Shehbaz on the Establishment Division before parliament was dissolved. He was allotted the same portfolio when caretaker PM Anwaarul Haq Kakar inducted him in his own cabinet.

The ECP, while taking note of a complaint, directed his removal in order to ensure the neutrality of the interim government. Complaint against Fawad Hassan Fawad, the Minister for Privatization, is still pending. He hasn’t served in the Shehbaz government.

However, there are three individuals who served in the previous government and have also been retained in the caretaker setup. Two of them have even served in the Imran Khan government. Maulana Tahir Ashrafi and Fahd Haroon are those individuals. The former is Special Representative of the Prime Minister on Religious Harmony and Pakistani Diaspora in the Middle East. Three PMs have changed but his status and portfolio have remained the same.

Fahd Haroon is yet another example. He has served as Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Digital Media with Imran Khan, Shehbaz Sharif and now Anwaarul Haq Kakar.

Jawad Sohrab Malik is one step down. He couldn’t find space in Imran’s cabinet but remained as SAPM on Overseas Pakistanis with Shehbaz and has retained the slot in the caretaker administration. Jawad is the maternal nephew of former chairman Senate and former interim prime minister, Mohammadmian Soomro. Jawad’s mother is active in the politics of Jacobabad, her native town.

The question arises as to why ECP has not taken action against them. Answering to this, one official said that the ECP took up the matter of Ahad and Fawad because complaints were filed against them, which has not happened in the case of the above-named individuals. However, he was not aware whether ECP could take suo moto notice of this. As far as Fawad’s matter is concerned, the ECP will likely conclude it today (Thursday) either against or in favour of him.

However, Fawad’s case is entirely different from Ahad’s. The former didn’t serve in the Shehbaz government dissolved last year on the completion of the term of parliament. He was the Principal Secretary to PM Nawaz Sharif and later to Shahid Khaqan Abbasi whose tenure ended in 2018.

Again, this was not a political post. He served him as a bureaucrat much like the chief election commissioner who worked with Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (when he was the petroleum minister).