[The News International 29 April, 2019]

ISLAMABAD: The powerful Khattaks of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) have joined the small, exclusive club shining with real brothers in federal and provincial cabinets. Former KP chief minister Pervez Khattak is the defence minister, while his brother Liaquat Khattak takes oath as a minister of Mahmood Khan cabinet on Monday. The induction shows the clout and influence of Pervez Khattak, who had publicly vented out his exasperation over not making him the interior minister during the recent cabinet reshuffle and expansion.

Liaquat Khattak’s inclusion in the KP cabinet seems to have been decided to serve as a “consolation” for his brother. Pervez Khattak also heads the 30-member parliamentary committee that was unanimously constituted to investigate the complaints of rigging in the 2018 general elections.

The forum does exist on papers but is dysfunctional, as it is not holding even any superficial meetings. It appears as if the opposition parties, which have been crying hoarse claiming manipulation in the parliamentary polls, have also forgotten the committee because there have been no demands from them since long to convene it.

Conspicuously figuring in the limited club dotting the federal and provincial cabinets with brothers are Makhdooms of Rahimyar Khan, who had joined the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) shortly before the general elections when the south Punjab province front was merged in Imran Khan’s squad. Elder brother Khusro Bakhtiar is minister for planning, development and reform at the federal level while younger brother Hashim Jawan Bakht is finance minister in Punjab.

At least five close relatives of Khattak are members of the national and KP assemblies. They also include his son Ibrahim, son-in-law Imran, sister-in-law Nafeesa Inayatullah Khattak and niece Ms Sajida Begum. They were directly or indirectly elected. Two other relatives are district and tehsil nazims in Nowshera.

Pervez Khattak had contested last year’s general elections on one national and two provincial seats. After winning NA-25, PK-61 and PK-64, he decided to keep the National Assembly seat. Later, Liaquat and Imran stood for two vacant seats and succeeded.

Looking at the representation of other influential political families in the legislatures, it is evident that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shahbaz Sharif is leader of the opposition in the National Assembly as well as the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

His son Hamza is the leader of opposition in the Punjab Assembly. A scramble is on to get him elected as the chairman of the provincial PAC. The opposition insists that the post be given to him and has boycotted the standing committee to press this point.

There was time when Nawaz Sharif was the prime minister of Pakistan while Shahbaz Sharif was the chief minister of Punjab at least twice. Hamza was member of the national or Punjab assembly.

On the other hand, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) supremo Asif Ali Zardari and son Bilawal are members of the National Assembly, while sister Faryal Talpur is a member of the Sindh Assembly. Zardari has kept his two daughters away from parliamentary politics. While Maryam Nawaz is active in politics, the Sharif family too has not allowed its other female members to be part of this process.

The Chaudhrys of Gujrat too have a good representation in the assemblies. While Pervez Elahi is the dominant speaker of the Punjab Assembly, his son Moonis Elahi is the member of the National Assembly. His party is trying to prevail upon the senior partner of the ruling coalition to honour the commitment of inducing Moonis Elahi in the federal cabinet.

Also, PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain’s son Salik Hussain, and his brother Chaudhry Wajahat Hussain’s son Hussain Elahi are members of the National Assembly from Chakwal and Gujrat respectively.

Election to the assemblies and induction in cabinets of these figures shows the hold of certain political families over Pakistan’s politics. They belong to different political parties – PTI, PML-N, PPP and PML-Q.