Court rules unelected aides to PM can’t head govt bodies

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ISLAMABAD: In what may come as a major blow to the privatisation process being spearheaded by some unelected members of the federal government, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Monday set aside the notification regarding formation of the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP) last year.

The IHC, in its short order on a petition, ruled that unelected advisers and special assistants could not head government’s committees and subsequently set aside the notification of the CCoP, headed by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Abdul Hafeez Shaikh.

A detailed order on the challenge is expected over the next few days.

While deciding the petition filed by a member of the National Assembly, Justice Aamer Farooq held that unelected advisers and special assistants could not interfere into the executive’s domain.

The petition, which was submitted by lawmaker Rana Iradat Sharif Khan through his counsel Barris­ter Mohsin Shahnawaz Ran­jha, had challenged the app­ointment of Mr Shaikh as chairman and Adviser to the PM on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood and Adviser to the PM on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr Ishrat Hussain as members of the CCoP.

According to the prosecution, it is a settled rule that the cabinet constitutes the prime minister and ministers, who are the elected members of parliament.

Lawmaker Iradat Sharif had challenged the April 25, 2019 notification that nominated Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Rev­enue Hafeez Shaikh, Adv­iser to the PM on Comm­erce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser to the PM on Institutional Ref­orms and Austerity Dr Ish­rat Hussain, Minister for Communications Murad Saeed, Senator Farogh Nas­eem, Minister for Planning and Development Asad Umar, Minister for Privati­sa­tion Mohammadmian Soo­mro and Minister for Power Omar Ayub Khan as members of the CCoP.

The induction of three advisers Mr Shaikh, Mr Dawood and Dr Hussain, who were not elected by the people of Pakistan, into the CCoP was challenged before the court.