The Prime Minister Imran Khan has been of the firm belief that ministers should be held responsible for the failures of their ministries. He has often quoted incidents of ministerial responsibility leading to resignations in western democracies as a model that should be followed in Pakistan. To his credit he has held his cabinet to a higher standard than Prime Ministers before him; they have been forced to report on the progress of their ministries regularly and he hasn’t been hesitant to shuffle ineffective and counterproductive members of his government to other posts.

With such a precedent established it is quite inexplicable that Imran Khan isn’t holding Sheikh Rasheed, the Minister of Railways, to an equal standard. The list of his mistakes and controversies while in charge of such a crucial department are endless, and the recent preliminary enquiry into the Tezgam tragedy that lead to the loss of 73 people pins the blame firmly on Pakistan Railways. The minister must be held responsible.

For all his faults Khawaja Saad Rafique, the previous minister, greatly improved the performance of this perennially problematic department; trains started operating on time, accidents were greatly reduced, new online methods of ticketing were launched and many routes became profitable for the first time in decades.

His replacement has taken this department in the opposite direction. In an effort to “do something popular” in the first 100 days, Sheikh Rasheed broke protocol and started new routes using bogeys reserved for repair and backup – the result has been disastrous. Accidents, derailments, and fires are common in these improperly maintained trains, while the department has returned to its notorious practice of exceeding delays. The regression has forced even bureaucrats from the department to publically rebel.

If that wasn’t enough the new Minister has made a mockery of due process by holding ballots for new appointments in the department – which quite suspiciously led to the recruitment of individuals primarily from his and his son’s constituencies. This obvious case of nepotism should be enough on its own to spell Sheikh Rasheed’s end.

 If not for gross incompetence, then for nepotism – Sheikh Rasheed has to go.