Pakistan PM loses two special assistants over criticism of dual nationality, govt performance

Pakistan PM loses two special assistants over criticism of dual nationality, govt performance
Facing criticism for having dual citizenship and government’s performance, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Digital Pakistan Tania Aidrus and Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Health Dr Zafar Mirza announced that they were resigning from their posts.
Notifications issued by the Cabinet Division said Prime Minister Imran Khan had accepted both Aidrus and Mirza’s resignations.
Their resignations come days after the opposition lambasted the government following the latter’s move to make public details of the assets and dual nationalities of 20 advisers and special assistants to the prime minister.
Aidrus said she was resigning from her post due to recent criticism levelled against her and the government because of her dual citizenship.
“Criticism levied towards the state as a consequence of my citizenship status is clouding the purpose of Digital Pakistan,” Aidrus said in a Twitter post. “In the greater public interest, I have submitted my resignation from the SAPM role. I will continue to serve my country and the PM’s vision to my best ability.”
She also attached a picture of her resignation letter addressed to the premier. In the letter, she stated that she had returned to Pakistan with the “singular intent to contribute and develop the vision of a Digital Pakistan”.
She said that her Canadian nationality, a consequence of her birth and not an acquisition of choice, served as a distraction to her ability to execute the long-term vision for a Digital Pakistan.
“It is unfortunate that a Pakistani’s desire to serve Pakistan is clouded by such issues,” she said.
Shortly after Aidrus announced her resignation, Mirza took to Twitter and said that he had come to Pakistan on the personal invitation of the premier after leaving the World Health Organisation (WHO).
“I worked hard and honestly. It was a privilege to serve Pakistan. I am satisfied that I leave at a time when Covid -19 has declined in Pakistan as a result of a grand national effort.”
He added that he had made the decision over the “negative discussion about the role of SAPMs and criticism of the government”.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had launched the Digital Pakistan programme in December 2019 and named Aidrus, a Google executive who quit her position, to lead the initiative. Later in February, she was appointed as SAPM on Digital Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Mirza was assigned the portfolio of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination in April 2019 and was engaged in overseeing the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prior to this, he was working as director of Health System Development at the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean.
In June, the National Accountability Bureau had said it was initiating an inquiry against Dr Mirza. Mirza was accused of involvement in the smuggling of 20 million face masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) in the wake of coronavirus’ spread and import of vitamins, drugs and salts from India in the garb of life-saving drugs.
Fadia Jiffry

Fadia Jiffry

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