Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Special Assistant for Overseas Pakistanis Zulfi Bukhari resigned from his post on Monday over the allegations made against him in the Rawalpindi Ring Road (RRR) project scandal.
He is not the first cabinet member to resign after being named in a corruption scandal, but several ministers have previously resigned over controversial issues.
After the PTI came to power in August 2018, there were six major reshuffles in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet.
While many ministers and government officials resigned or were removed from office including Azam Swati, Babar Awan, Jahangir Tareen, Aleem Khan, Amir Kayani, Ajmal Wazir, Samiullah Chaudhry, Zafar Mirza, Nadeem Babar, Firdous Ashiq Awan and Lt. Gen. Retired Asim Bajwa were among them.
Some political observers attribute it to the current government that so many ministers and cabinet members were removed for corruption or controversy, while previous governments did not take action despite scandals.
However, observers also point to the fact that most of these ministers later rejoined the government, including Azam Swati, Babar Awan, Aleem Khan and Firdous Ashiq Awan.
BOL News has reviewed the actions taken against ministers and government officials on corruption and other issues in the government of the three major parties of the country.
Pakistan Peoples Party Era 2008 To 2013
When the Pakistan People’s Party came to power for the third time in March 2008, past corruption allegations still haunt it.
Just a year later, in December 2009, the Supreme Court revoked corruption cases against several cabinet members and leaders, including PPP chief Asif Ali Zardari, by repealing the controversial National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) issued by President General Musharraf, which caused the government severe difficulties.
Through the NRO, Musharraf granted amnesty to politicians and bureaucrats from January 1986 to October 1999 in cases such as corruption and money laundering.
The abolition of the NRO paved the way for the resumption of Swiss cases against party chief Asif Ali Zardari, but he could not be prosecuted because of his immunity as president.
However, in April 2012, the Supreme Court convicted PPP Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani of contempt of court for failing to comply with a court order to write a letter to Swiss authorities to open cases against President Zardari.
It is alleged that Yousuf Raza Gilani had to resign from the PM’s post in June 2012 following a Supreme Court decision.
Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, was removed from office during the PPP era due to the notorious Memogate scandal.
The Memogate alleged that Hussain Haqqani had written a letter to the US military chief requesting that possible martial law be blocked in Pakistan.
Haqqani denied the allegations but resigned.
In January 2013, the Supreme Court had ordered the arrest of several officials, including the then PPP Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, in a rental power case. However, the court later did not comply with the arrest warrant.
In this case, Raja Pervez Ashraf and others were accused of taking kickbacks from power generating companies, which he denied. However, as soon as the PPP government came to an end, the NAB had sent summons notices to Raja Pervez Ashraf and other PPP leaders.
It is as if no minister has been fired due to corruption in the entire PPP government and no one has resigned.
PML-N government From 2013 to 2018
At the beginning of the third term of the PML-N government, there was no corruption scandal. However, party chief Nawaz Sharif’s premiership was also lost as a result of a Supreme Court decision following the Panama scandal.
Similarly, during the PML-N era, the late Mushahidullah resigned in 2015 over a statement against the Establishment, while the Information Ministry was withdrawn from Pervez Rashid in 2016 over the Don Lex controversy.
Then in November 2017, Federal Law Minister Zahid Hamid resigned at the demand of Faizabad protesters.
However, even during the PML-N era, no minister was sacked or resigned on the basis of the corruption scandal, but in 2017 Nawaz Sharif became the Prime Minister due to court orders.
After the fall of the PML-N government, NAB cases were registered against several former cabinet members, including party president Shahbaz Sharif, and arrests were made, including Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Khawaja Asif and Ahsan Iqbal.
Dismissals And Resignations On Corruption During The PTI Government
In August 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan took the oath of office. His party came to power with a manifesto to end corruption, but with the advent of the government, various scandals began to surface and immediate action was taken.
In December 2018, Swati, the federal prime minister for science and technology, had to resign following allegations of illegal occupation of CDA land in Islamabad and abuse of power against his neighbour.
However, only four months later, in April 2019, Azam Swati was reinstated in the cabinet and appointed Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs.
Similarly, in September 2018, Babar Awan, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Parliamentary Affairs, resigned from the ministry due to the Nandipur reference probe but was reinstated in the cabinet after being acquitted by the accountability court.
In February 2019, the NAB arrested Aleem Khan, a senior friend of Punjab and a close friend of Prime Minister Imran Khan, in a disproportionate assets case, after which he resigned from the ministry, but was released in April 2020. Also returned to the provincial cabinet.
Similarly, in April 2019, the then Health Minister Amir Mahmood Kayani was also sacked. He is also being investigated by the NAB in connection with the drug price hike scandal.
Then, in April 2020, after the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) investigation report on the wheat and sugar crisis came to light, the federal cabinet was reshuffled and several senior officials were removed from their posts.
The Prime Minister removed his advisor Shehzad Arbab while Jahangir Tareen was also removed from the post of Chairman Task Force on Agriculture. Khusro Bakhtiar was removed from the ministry of food security and his portfolio was changed.
Prime Minister’s spokesman Shahbaz Gill had confirmed that the cabinet reshuffle was due to an FIA investigation report on sugar and flour.
Similarly, Punjab Food Minister Samiullah Chaudhry resigned from his post after his name appeared in a report by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on the flour and sugar crisis.