The Punjab Cabinet has been expanded with the induction of eleven new members, bringing the hefty total to thirty-one ministers. Three Advisors and two Special Assistants have also been added to the team of provincial cabinet. The Ministries of Public Prosecution, Planning and Development, Literacy, Information, S and GAD department, Livestock and Dairy Development, Transport and Telecommunication and Development were kept by the Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, a feat almost humanly impossible to achieve singularly even by the best of men and it is good that he is relinquishing absolute control over some of these portfolios.

The number seems daunting, yet for a population of 100 million, 20 to 30 ministries are not abnormal. There are accusations that the move aims at preventing the disgruntled elements in the PML-N from joining other parties and some of the new ministers were reportedly not happy with the leadership for being ignored for long. However, in the game of politics, the party members must feel they have a role in government, and delegating responsibility is a step in the right direction. Additionally, most of the 11 chosen ones are loyal PML-N supporters and have been stalwarts for years. While some may desire a ministry out of personal ambition, to say that they were thrown a bone out of fear that they would defect is a bit of a stretch. This however, does not detract from the fact that this new change in executive policy is drastic. The change has been made after four years in office, and the question of 11 ministries being headed by the CM should have cropped up sooner, however, the CM does have a reputation for keeping a tight hold on things. Letting go now, is giving the impression that these new ministers are an afterthought – a bit too little too late. If there was a need for better management of the various development activities in Punjab, could these eleven portfolios not have been delegated sooner, so that the new ministers could prove their mettle with more time.

Though the move has left the CM’s office open to a lot of questions and criticism, as of yet, the government has not done anything wrong. If the aim is better delegation of work and better governance, we can leave it to their discretion how they want to allocate responsibility. 31 ministers hustling and bustling to make sure people have food and facilities and roads and schools and safety in Punjab does not sound bad at all, if the 31 ministers can deliver.