'Pakistan cabinet overhaul like rearranging Titanic deck chairs'

The overhaul of Pakistan's federal cabinet "may be akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic", said a leading Pakistani daily, adding that "the obscene excesses and privileges of power at a time many in the country are struggling to make ends meet demands some serious change".
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Updated on Jan 24, 2011 12:44 PM IST
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IANS | By, Islamabad

The overhaul of Pakistan's federal cabinet "may be akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic", said a leading Pakistani daily, adding that "the obscene excesses and privileges of power at a time many in the country are struggling to make ends meet demands some serious change".

An editorial in the Dawn Monday said: "The federal cabinet is set to be overhauled, a long-delayed change that may, briefly, raise the hope the government is finally getting serious about governance issues."

It said that "much will depend on the candidate selection and the portfolio allocation. Already there are indications fierce pressure on the prime minister may force him to stick with many of the familiar faces, simply shuffling portfolios around".

"In the present climate, that may be akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic."

On what is wrong with the federal cabinet, the editorially bluntly said: "Everything."

"The fact that no one, not even parliamentarians, is sure about the size of the present cabinet ought to be astonishing, but has instead become just another marker of epic governmental waste at a time of great financial peril.

"The average voter would struggle to name more than a handful of ministers, ministers of state, special advisers, advisers with ministerial status, etc who are feeding at the trough at the moment. Who are the rest of these privileged souls and what are they doing? Whatever it is, steering state and society towards a better future does not appear to be part of their agenda."

It went on to say that the "...the obscene excesses and privileges of power at a time many in the country are struggling to make ends meet demands some serious change".

"The 18th amendment has introduced a clause that from the next election will 'limit' the size of the cabinet to 11 percent of the total membership of parliament. At present, that would mean an astonishing 50-odd cabinet members."

The editorial stressed that there was need to look at the quality of the ministerial pool.

"Political heavyweights and personal favourites of party leaders do not automatically translate into good ministers. A survey of the performance of some of the most 'high-profile' ministers over the last couple of years would bear out that fact.

"So as much as there is a need for fewer faces, there is also a need for newer faces, perhaps with some regard to merit and competence."

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