The reconstruction of the Cabinet was perhaps made inevitable by the 18th Amendment which both placed a limit on the size of Cabinets, and also devolved certain subjects downwards, from the federal government to the provincial governments, thus rendering purposeless the ministries at the centre. These purely legal requirements created an atmosphere which made it a necessity for the Cabinet to be cut down, and at the same time as it became legally impossible to maintain the same number of ministers, it became necessary to reconstruct the ministry, because of the departure of two Cabinet partners - the MQM and the JUI-F. There was also a general feeling that the Cabinet, at 54, was too large, and needed bringing down. The Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, was also not head of his party, and thus was not independent in his decisions, but had to have them approved by the President, who continued to head the PPP, and thus the credit or blame for bringing down the ministry from 54 to 22 went to the President. One of the most important features, at least for ministerial hopefuls, was that this was supposed to be a first phase, a phrase used by PMs down the ages, and meant to keep hope alive. However, the next phase is only to come if the coalition partners consent to rejoin, neither of which seem ready. The 'next phase has been a convention within the ruling parties for decades now, and there is no reason to believe there will be any break with tradition. However, what seems more important to the vast number of people who are not ministerial hopefuls is the fate of Shah Mahmood Qureshi. He did not join the Cabinet because, according to some reports, his portfolio was being changed. The change from the Foreign Ministry to the Water and Power Ministry was made possible because of the dropping of Raja Pervez Ashraf, but it meant moving from the frying-pan of the Raymond Davis case to the fire of loadshedding. Such a transformation was earlier achieved when Gohar Ayub Khan, after being Foreign Minister in the 1998 nuclear crisis, moved to Water and Power. Gohar had moved at his own request, because he felt that as Foreign Minister he was neglecting his constituency. He had a point, as no Foreign Minister from the National Assembly has ever been re-elected. However, Qureshis departure from the Foreign Office, and from the Cabinet entirely, has been ascribed to the Davis affair, because Qureshi said he had refused to certify that Davis was a diplomat and enjoyed the immunity, which would allow him to escape prosecution for his shooting of two Pakistani young men. That would imply a micromanagement of Pakistani affairs that would only be paralleled in Iraq or Afghanistan. Though whether headed by the PPP, the PML-N or the military, the Foreign Minister is supposed to look after the US and the countrys relationship with it - elected Foreign Ministers have found themselves not jumping through hoops. While Gohar Ayub found himself in the position of carrying out one of the greatest acts of defiance by being Foreign Minister at the time of the nuclear tests, Khurshid Kasuri found himself defending Pakistanis in the US, while Shah Mahmood Qureshi found himself in the Davis affair. Inevitably, the US itself has been blamed for Qureshis departure from the Foreign Office. On the face of it, it is ridiculous for the US to be able to interfere or even influence the formation of a Pakistani Cabinet, but the US itself has the recent precedent of the US Secretary of State getting a second term for COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Foreign ministers have upset the US because its behaviour is imperial, and does not befit that between free and independent states, and because America believes in shooting the messenger who is the bearer of bad news. Though a foreign power has no business interfering in the Cabinet selection of a free country, the US is neither above such tactics, nor is the present government free of such influence. The haste with which Davis was declared a diplomat after Qureshis departure indicates that he was an obstacle, perhaps the primary obstacle. Though the omission of Qureshi was important, it has obscured an important point, that the reduction took place because of a new constitutional requirement, which also applies to the provinces. If the federal Cabinet attracted criticism because of its size, the same will apply to the provincial Cabinets. The devolved departments already have ministries appertaining to them at the provincial level, so while the 18th Amendment means that those Cabinets will be more difficult to shrink, it also means that there will be no additional burden, with no new departments formed, just existing departments expanded. However, the general public probably does not understand the overwhelming compulsion members of an assembly have towards becoming ministers. It is not just a matter of promotion, which people might know and relate to, because they expect it in their own field, but it is also a matter of something ordinary people do not experience, that of having a luxurious lifestyle paid for by the taxpayer. This would explain not just why Cabinets are so large, but why forming them is so difficult. With almost all members aspirants for ministries, once formed, aspirants who have not been accommodated proliferate, and all of them have grievances. And, after a Cabinet reconstruction, their number is augmented by those dropped, who will never admit that they were not up to the job. This trend is even stronger in a coalition, where members owe ministerial positions to party loyalty, and where larger proportions of the parliamentary parties of junior partners find themselves part of the Cabinet. The normal Cabinet is supposed to be formed by one party, and that was the assumption of those who provided for a limit on the size of Cabinets in the Constitution. However, ever since the 1973 Constitution brought back Westminster-style governments, they have always been coalitions, except under martial law, or the government succeeding it. The claim that 'coalition partners need seats has been used as an excuse for ever-expanding Cabinets, and martial law and caretaker Cabinets have been correspondingly larger. The fundamental flaw has been to regard induction in the Cabinet, as a reward entitling the minister to privileges, rather than the headship of a department. At most, the ministry is seen as somehow a means to serve ones constituency, rather than to serve the nation as a whole. This was the flaw in the current Cabinet, even when shorn of coalition partners, and the reconstruction has not shown that this has gone away. Reconstruction is a necessity in Cabinets, especially coalitions, but if the purpose of a Cabinet continues to be a twisted version of jobs for the boys, reconstructions like this will serve no useful purpose beyond making sure that Cabinets stay within the limits prescribed by the Constitution. However, if the provincial Cabinets are not cut to size soon, the reduction in the federal Cabinet will be seen as an aberration to be rectified (by re-expansion), rather than an example to be followed.