When too many cooks don’t spoil the broth

LAHORE: The PTI government in Punjab has assigned its 40 spokespersons the ‘special task’ to take on the PML-N leadership, especially Maryam Nawaz for her aggressive stance against Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The Punjab government has expanded its list of spokespersons this week, apparently to strengthen its team and effectively defend the party and the government’s policies as per PTI slogan ‘Naya Pakistan’.

Sources say the expansion of the spokespersons from 12, nominated in February this year, to 40 members explains the realisation within the party that the information wing has, so far, been unable to defend the party leadership and its policies.

A source in the party says the opposition was aggressively targeting its leadership, particularly Prime Minister Imran Khan, but the incumbent information minister is silent and has failed to defend the party while not playing, in cricket terms, on the front foot.

40 spokespersons to target PML-N leaders, especially Maryam

It may be mentioned that a notification issued with the signatures of information minister Samsam Bukhari has nominated 40 party leaders, ministers and MPAs to form a working group and link-up on Whatsapp to coordinate and share right information for dissemination and image-building of the government and projection of its policies.

Originally, former information minister Fayyazul Hassan Chohan had constituted a 12-member committee and defending the party while playing on the front foot. However, soon after his removal from the ministry, Mr Chohan had gone silent. Though Mr Chohan has been nominated in the spokespersons list, he is still maintaining his silence and avoided to attend any of the four meetings held till May 28. However, Mr Chohan’s close aides dispelled the impression that the former minister was nursing any grudge, saying that he would be defending the party line aggressively soon after Eidul Fitr.

The information minister’s May 28 notification had also included the names of two civil servants – Punjab information secretary Momin Agha and Director General Public Relations (DGPR) Dr Aslam Dogar. Upon reservations, the minister amended the notification very next day, excluding the two civil servants and adding more party leaders to make a list of 40 spokespersons.

Responding to a question about merit or criteria to include party MPAs and leaders in the list, some party members said it was not a hard and fast rule that only the notified people would be defending the party policies and leadership. They say most of these members were already defending the party line on TV talk shows and other occasions and names would continue being added or deleted from the list.

“Many of the provincial ministers, who are not in the list, will also continue defending the party and their respective ministries without any hurdle,” a party member said.

Sources say the 40 spokespersons will remain under the microscopic watch to see whether they effectively defend the party policies and build the Punjab government image as per ‘Naya Pakistan’ slogan or not.

Besides 40 spokespersons, there are four coordinators for coordination with all the spokespersons as well as the media. Though all the spokespersons will be serving the party on a voluntary basis, the party members say the poor coordinators needed to be supported financially.

The 40-member team notified upon the directions of the prime minister and subsequent approval of the chief minister comprise the information minister, party spokespersons, chief minister’s spokesperson, ministers, MNA, MPAs, including women MPAs, and the party leaders.

The party spokespersons are: information minister Samsam Bukhari, CM’s spokesperson Dr Shahbaz Gill, adviser to CM Dr Salman Shah, PTI central information secretary Omer Sarfraz Cheema, special assistant to prime minister Usman Dar, MNA Farrukh Habib, PTI additional secretary general Ejaz Chaudhry, provincial ministers Raja Basharat, Mian Mehmoodur Rasheed, Dr Yasmin Rashid, Mian Aslam Iqbal, Samiullah Chaudhry, Hashim Jawan Bakht, Murad Rass, Anser Majeed, Raja Yasir Humayun Sarfaraz, Muhammad Sibtain Khan, retired Col Hashim Dogar, Sardar Asif Ali Nakai, Nauman Langrial, MPAs Fayyazul Hassan Chohan, Faisal Hayat, Mussarrat Jamshaid Cheema, Aisha Nawaz Chaudhry, Uzma Kardar, Saadia Sohail, Seemabia Tahir, Momina Waheed, Nazeer Chohan and the party leaders Jamshaid Iqbal Cheema, Dr Sohail Zafar Cheema, Muhammad Ahmad Chattha, Shaukat Basra, Malik Muhammad Azam, Usman Saeed Basra, Atif Chaudhry, Waqar Toor, Robinson Francis, Dr Zarqa Suherwardi and Dr Shahid Siddique.

Meanwhile, PML-N Punjab president Rana Sanullah said on Friday the PTI government in the province had appointed 40 spokespersons to target former premier Nawaz Sharif.

“In fear of Nawaz Sharif, the PTI government has appointed 40 spokespersons to target him,” he said in a statement.

Mr Sana added that it was the most incompetent government that had made the lives of the masses miserable. The government was more concerned about targeting the opposition instead of focusing on governance.

“It has handed over the country to the IMF and premier Imran Khan wants to shut down the parliament,” Mr Sanaullah said and added that the government had attacked the judiciary by filing a reference against two judges of the superior court.

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