Merit-based reshuffle

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PRIME Minister Imran Khan has approved major reshuffle in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs appointing Munir Akram as Pakistan’s Permanent Representative at the United Nations to replace Dr Maleeha Lodhi while Khalil Hashmi would take up the charge of the country’s Ambassador at UN Geneva Office. There is also likelihood that the PM might also go for the federal cabinet reshuffle to re-include Asad Umar besides changing portfolios of some of the ministers.
The reshuffle is part and parcel of governance and this is considered to be a routine but merit-based changes reflect resolve of the Prime Minister to deliver in a better manner. There can hardly be two opinions that Dr Maleeha Lodhi was a rational choice for Washington and New York and the way she conducted the diplomacy and steered the country successfully during turbulent periods is confirmation of her diplomatic skill and insight of the foreign policy issues. It was because of her competence that she enjoyed confidence of successive governments and rulers. The visit of the Prime Minister to the United States was a resounding success and one must give credit to Dr Maleeha Lodhi for conducting the visit meticulously. However, now that she had completed her four year tenure at the UN and a new appointment was due, it is satisfying that the Prime Minister made the best choice in the shape of Munir Akram, who is known as one of the finest diplomats of the country. He is such a towering personality in the realm of diplomacy that commands respect not just among the diplomatic community of Pakistan but the entire world. He has thorough command over international law, UN system and its working and communicative skills to effective put across the country’s point of view on different issues of concern and interest. In fact, people like Munir Akram and Dr A Q Khan should never retire but regrettably, at times, we become victim to short-sightedness and deprive the country of the unmatched talent. Munir Akram returns to New York at a time when Pakistan is faced with the challenge of safeguarding its interests in the wake of illegal annexation of Occupied Jammu and Kashmir by India and unleashing of a reign of terror there by its forces. Munir Akram is known for his hawkish and aggressive approach when it comes to dealing with India, projecting the cause of Kashmiris and defending Pakistan’s nuclear capability. He has delivered on these fronts in the past and it is hoped he will be able to do so now as well. As for possible cabinet changes, the re-entry of Asad Umar might be a welcome move for party cadres that were unhappy the way the portfolio of finance and economic affairs was taken away from him. He was considered to be one of the ablest men in the party despite the fact he could not fulfil expectation as far as improving things in the realm of economy was concerned. It is to be seen what other changes the Prime Minister might opt for but the choice is limited. It makes hardly any difference if ministries are rotated among the incumbent cabinet colleagues. The Prime Minister has been strictly monitoring the performance of the ministers and their ministries and based on that he might make some changes assigning right ministries to right people. We believe that instead of making changes every now and then, Ministers with necessary background and expertise of different fields should be given the task to head and reform the relevant ministry. Frequent changes deprive the ministries to work with peace of mind and deliver as per expectations of the people and the Prime Minister. Another issue that needs urgent attention of the Prime Minister is the policy of adhocism in running different organizations, departments and corporations. The previous government did not appoint heads of scores of departments during its entire tenure and it was expected that the incumbent government would do the needful as it was a pre-requisite for strengthening institutions. This is all the more important and relevant in view of the fact that it is these institutions that implement policies and programmes of the Government in different spheres of life. Therefore, a merit-based and transparent process of appointing regular heads of various corporations and departments be initiated without further delay.

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