Another Reshuffle

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government has made Cabinet reshuffles in the centre a near regular occurrence. And sure enough, there are reports that another one might soon be in the offing. There are indications that the Prime Minister’s complete recovery from coronavirus and return to work will also bring about this reported change.

What is interesting to note is that there are indications that more lawmakers from the coalition—particularly MQM and BAP—might also be granted portfolios. This is necessary for the PTI to keep its allies from considering support for opposition movements. More seats at the table is a good first step in making smaller members of the coalition feel like they are adequately represented.

But beyond this, the reshuffle—like others before it—is also predicated on performance. And yet, it is still unclear how replacing one portfolio for another in the case of poorly performing ministers and advisors is likely to lead to an overall performance boost. The best the ruling party can hope to achieve with this strategy is allow for lawmakers doing well to take over ministries that the Prime Minister wants to focus on. This only helps specific portfolios while deliberately neglecting others.

This way, ministers that have made it to Cabinet are all but guaranteed a portfolio, no matter how poorly they are doing, taking away any incentive for improvement. A better tactic would be to instead completely remove ministers PM Khan is not happy with. Other competent members from within the ruling party can take their place.

The government needs to manage its time and resources better in this regard. The fundamental thought behind the ruling party’s action is understandable, but the execution itself leaves a lot to be desired. New faces in the Cabinet can take away performance lags. A reshuffle only readjusts them.

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