Political rivalries and corrupt ministers make new government in Pakistan unstable

Ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan was thrown out of power by a coalition of parties
that were once each other’s nemesis. While they have come together by defeating Khan
over the charges of misgovernance and offered an alternative, the new government led
by Shehbaz Sharif will also not be a stable government. There are two major reasons.
First, many ministers in the new government are from the tainted background and face
corruption and other serious charges. The second is the inherent rivalry between the two
major coalition partners – Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League –
Nawaz (PML-N). PPP Chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has decided to stay out of
government, which indicates the PPP will not like to play second fiddle to the PML-N. This
can be a big reason for the clash of egos, leading to an unstable government.
First on the list of corrupt ministers is Shehbaz Sharif himself. He was indicted by an
accountability court in a corruption case. He was accused of “fraudulently and
dishonestly” causing a loss of PKR 193 million to the national exchequer. He was also
accused of and arrested in a money laundering case, in which his 23 properties were
seized.1 His brother Nawaz Sharif had to resign as Prime Minister after Pakistan Supreme
Court disqualified him in the Panama Papers case.2 New Finance Minister Miftah Ismail
was charged in 2019 for embezzlement of the USD 16 billion liquefied natural gas (LNG)
import contract with Qatar.3 The PML-N leader was arrested and later released on a bail.
Khawaja Muhammad Asif (PML-M) was charged for possessing assets higher than his
known income. He was arrested by Pakistan’s anti-corruption body National
Accountability Bureau (NAB) in December 2021.4 He remained in judicial custody for 14
days over the charges of the increase in the asset from PKR 5.1 million in 1991 to PKR
221 million in 2018. He failed to provide evidence of receiving PKR 130 million from a
UAE firm.5 Another PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal too was arrested by the NAB regarding
corruption in a multi-billion sports city project. The alleged corruption was to the tune of
PKR 3 billion, leading to huge losses to the national exchequer. 6
Pakistan’s new Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah (PML-N) was indicted by a Pakistani
court in a drug-related case in February 2021 as he was found with 15 kg of heroin and
weapons in his possession.
Imran Khan had alleged that Sanaullah had received PKR
15 billion in unlawful commission.8 Khawaja Saad Rafique of PML-N was embroiled in
controversy for his involvement in the Paragon Housing Society scam.9 He even admitted
that he took millions in commission illegally. He was jailed for his role in the scam.10 He
was also charged for overspending national resources while working as a railway
Syed Khursheed Shah of PPP was put behind the bars over assets higher than the
means known.
12 The charges of corruption have reference to PKR 1.23 billion of
unaccounted money.13 Another new PPP minister Syed Naveed Qamar was interrogated
by Pakistani agencies for corruption charges in the USD 329 million power project.14
Abdul Qadir Patel of PPP faced charges of corruption and even murder.
15 He was
interrogated by Pakistan’s Army over his links with gangsters.16 Another new minister
Faisal Sabzwari, who represents Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), was issued a
notice in a money laundering case.17 Non-bailable warrant for arrest was issued against
The image of the government does not seem to be impeccable from the start, thanks to
the induction of corrupt ministers and possible clashes among coalition partners. PPP
presents Bilawal as the prime ministerial candidate and it is likely to contest the next
national elections separately. This appears to be the most logical reason for Bilawal to
stay out of the government despite being the strong reports of his being anointed as a
foreign minister. PPP and PML-N have a history of distrust as they have been the two
principal parties of Pakistan for a long time now. Political observers say there cannot be
smooth coordination between them. The prospects of an unstable government do not
sound well for Pakistan, where the civilian government has to take orders from the
powerful Army.

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