By Raza Ruman
Islamabad (Pakdestiny) The information ministry is being run by none else but Maraym Nawaz.
Poor Pervaiz Rashid, the information minister, is looking helplessly up to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to give him back his ministry.
Maraym after forcing to leave the chairpersonship of PM Youth Loan Programme, has fully got active in the information ministry and calling the shots.
Poor Pervaiz Rashid has reduced to breath fire at Imran Khan. No one in the ministry takes his order seriously knowing who is real boss.
Dawn also reports
Much like the foreign ministry, the government’s mouthpiece is now also flush with new faces bringing in new ideas. Realising that is has to step up its game with regards to image management in the context of the political crisis that has plagued the government for some months now, the Information Ministry is undergoing a major facelift.
Among the architects of a new PR approach, sources within the Information Ministry tell Dawn, is Maryam Nawaz Sharif. Relieved of her responsibilities as the head of the PM’s Youth Loan Scheme by a Lahore High Court verdict, the PM’s daughter seems to have taken on a new role as the government’s chief spin doctor, according to a senior government official.
This position is purely unofficial. But insiders say that nearly all meetings of the inner sanctum of information at the Press Information Department may conducted by the minister Pervaiz Rashid, but they are led by Ms Sharif.
In recent days, both the PTI and the PML-N have been involved in a bitter war of words and both have competed for airtime with near-simultaneous press conferences.
This strategy, which is also said to be dictated by Ms Sharif herself, has seen veteran mouthpiece Pervaiz Rashid relentlessly going after the PTI and its leader over everything from tax irregularities to having foreign backers.
Insiders say that while the minister only gets talking points for these tirades, the script is decided in a boardroom with Ms Sharif very much in the driver’s seat.
Following her resignation from the youth loan scheme, Ms Sharif was briefed on the intricacies of the ministry by Information Secretary Mohammad Azam. Given her active interest in social media, the secretary also informed her about the government’s online strategies. It is evident that her Twitter posts have acquired a decidedly more political slant and are now quite divisive and calculated.
The recent campaign against the PTI in the run up to the party’s Nov 30 rally in the capital, is evidence of new thinking at the top.
The recent induction of Musadik Malik, the PM’s new spokesperson, has given Ms Sharif another knight in this game of chess against her father’s critics. Mr Malik is widely considered as the man responsible for ‘official spin’ and has been quite busy lately, wooing reporters with briefings in the swanky PM House.
Alongside Mr Malik is the veteran, Mohiyuddin Wani. As press secretary to the prime minister, Mr Wani has a virtual stranglehold on who has access to the PM. Mr Wani is something of a ticker service, sending journalists updates via text message on an hourly basis, while Mr Malik’s press appearances are more weekly. An officer of the District Management Group, Mr Wani is said to be on the lookout for another posting following Mr Malik’s induction into the government’s PR team.
Irfan Siddiqui, the PM’s special adviser on national affairs, is also an omniscient presence. While not directly involved in the day-to-day of this team, Mr Siddiqui is the PM’s most trusted aide when it comes to speechwriting. An aide to the PM told Dawn that given Mr Siddiqui’s background in journalism, the PM likes his selection of words and also trusts him to give ideas on how the information ministry should address a particular issue.
Parliamentarians Marvi Memon, Talal Chaudhry and Mohsin Ranjha are Ms Sharif’s protégés when it comes to TV appearances. They are briefed and debriefed nearly every day, but the line they toe comes straight from Ms Sharif herself.
A junior official told Dawn that there were “too many cooks” at the information ministry. Given the controversy surrounding her exit from her previous job, the government prefers not to formalise her status by giving her an official position, but Ms Sharif was definitely the unquestionable authority on top.
But no matter what the means, Ms Sharif’s strategies have produced results. “People have differing opinions, but I think she has been able to come up with a powerful response to the rhetoric spouted by PTI chief Imran Khan and his attacks against her father, the prime minister,” said a senior party leader.
At the bottom of the information chain is Press Information Officer Saleem Rao. The operational manager for most of the functions of the ministry, Mr Rao’s reputation is that of someone who gets things done. He is the one who has to make mandatory appearances alongside any government minister who deems fit to speak to the press at the Press Information Department, and also has to put up with the complaints of every minister who doesn’t get enough press coverage.