A dispatch in a leading American newspaper Sunday focuses on cash-starved Pakistan's "jumbo-sized" cabinet composed of 61 ministers and advisers, saying, "several among them marginally qualified or shadowed by graft allegations." Writing from Islamabad, correspondent Karin Brulliard of The Washington Post then compares the cabinet with those in the United States and Nigeria, noting Pakistan's population of 170 million. "The United States, with a population of 310 million, has 16 Cabinet members. Just fewer than 40 ministers sit in on cabinet meetings in Nigeria, which has a population of about 150 million," the dispatch pointed out. "Alarmed by the tanking economy and vast flood wreckage, Pakistan's powerful army chief and U.S. officials here have zeroed in on the cabinet's weak performance and are pushing President Asif Ali Zardari for shake-ups and slim-downs," the Post said, citing Pakistani officials. "Even insiders in Zardari's Pakistan People's Party privately express frustration about government girth," it said. "Yet despite regular reports that a cabinet 'reshuffle' is about to happen, few observers are holding their breath," correspondent Brulliard wrote. "The cabinet size, political analysts say, reflects the deep-rooted nature of both the ruling party and of governing in Pakistan... . "In Pakistan, where being a federal minister brings clout at the very local level, that translates into votes for the government. Ministers hire friends and family, deliver services to their own villages and hand money to community leaders or landowners - then depend on them to round up voters at election time." "It's good old party patronage," one ruling party lawmaker who, according to the dispatch, advocates a smaller cabinet was quoted as saying. "To top it off, Pakistani newspapers have reported recently, many cabinet members do not pay taxes, nor do they seem to make much progress. Nearly three months after the beginning of devastating floods, many victims still haven't received government compensation. Last month, the finance minister said government coffers were running so low that the government might not be able to pay civil servants after two months," the Post said. For what it's worth, government officials say they agree the cabinet is too big. They say they are planning to reduce the size in accordance with a constitutional amendment passed by parliament this year, which mandates a cabinet with no more than 49 members. One senior government official said in an interview Friday that the trim would happen within days, but he also said Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani did "not want to offend" those on the chopping block. Raza Rabbani, a ruling party senator who oversaw the drafting of the new amendment, said it might happen by next summer, according to the dispatch. "Such a drastic cut would automatically disbalance the coalition," Rabbani said. Less than three years after the end of a military dictatorship, he added, inculcating democracy should be more important than cutting poor performers. "But those party members said Zardari, who is known for stubbornness, is resisting changes," the Post said. "He has surrounded himself with a coterie of loyalists, they said, some of whom are considered to rank among the least effective government officials." What is more likely, political analysts said, is a continuation of the status quo.