ISLAMABAD - In a surprising development, Senator Shibli Faraz on Monday was appointed as the Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting while Chairman CPEC Lt Gen (retired) Asim Saleem Bajwa was appointed as the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting in place of Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan.

Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry announced the high-profile reshuffle on Twitter on Monday afternoon. He also congratulated both Shibli Faraz and Asim Saleem Bajwa. “Truly an honorable and dignified man @shiblifaraz has been appointed new Information minister of Pak, and a brilliant @AsimSBajwa appointed SAPM on info both ll make a great team.... all the best,” Chaudhry tweeted.

The Cabinet Division issued a notification in this regard which says “the Prime Minister has been pleased to remove Dr Firdous Aashiq Awan from the office of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting with immediate effect.”

The new SAPM to the PM on Information and Broadcasting Lt General (R) Asim Saleem Bajwa has been appointed in an honorary capacity.

Well-placed sources informed The Nation that PM Office received reports of Dr Awan’s involvement in financial corruption and misuse of authority which were later proved to be true. They said that Imran Khan and PTI have always had good relations with the media but that relationship was damaged during the tenure of Dr. Awan.

They mentioned that there was a possibility that the Federal

Investigation Agency may probe the former SAPM and her close aides’ assets.  The sources further said the new Minister for Information and SAPM would set a media strategy after consultation with the PM. The PM believes that Shibli Faraz would once again engage the media to build a good rapport with the industry.

While talking to The Nation, a Cabinet member revealed that the PM was annoyed over the performance of the outgoing SAPM, especially when she could not manage the media appearances of the PM with senior TV anchors during the briefings on COVID-19.

He said while finding her replacement, the PM considered different names including Hammad Azhar, Shafqat Mahmood, Senator Faisal Javeed and Barrister Shahzad Akbar with his core team, but since he was satisfied with their performances the PM did not want to assign them to a new job.

He said PTI senior leaders had already recommended that the PM remove Dr Firdous from such a key portfolio because she had failed to highlight PTI’s achievements in the media.

 

PM Khan had appointed Dr Firdous as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting in April 2019. She replaced Fawad Chaudhry who is currently the Minister for Science and Technology. Shibli Faraz was appointed as the Leader of the House in the Senate in August 2018 by PTI and Lieutenant General (retd) Asim Bajwa is currently serving as Chairperson of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority. Bajwa will serve as the authority’s head for a period of four years.

 

General Asim Bajwa is retired from Pakistan Army where he had served as Director General of the Inter services Public Relations (ISPR) from 2012 to 2016.