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New Federal Cabinet to Take Oath Today

Initial strength of P.M. Sharif’s cabinet capped at 19, with several members drawn from most recent caretaker setup

by Staff Report

File photo of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif , courtesy PMLN

The federal cabinet of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is set to take oath of office today (Monday), with a ceremony at President’s House, where newly-elected President Asif Ali Zardari will administer the oath.

Reportedly, the size of the cabinet has been capped at 19 members in the first phase, though sources maintain this number would rise as more ministers are inducted in the second phase after a few months. According to a letter written by Sharif to Zardari, the cabinet includes 12 MNAs and 3 senators as federal ministers, while Shaza Fatima Khawaja has been appointed a minister of state for the Ministry of I.T. and Telecommunication.

Reportedly, former finance minister Ishaq Dar has been tapped to head the foreign ministry, while Tariq Fatemi would take oath as a special assistant to the prime minister on foreign affairs. Banker Muhammad Aurangzeb, whose first job would be to secure a fresh bailout from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), would lead the all-important finance ministry.

Former interim Punjab chief minister Mohsin Naqvi, currently serving as chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board, has been tapped to head the Interior Ministry. The Law Ministry would serve under Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) Senator Azam Tarar, who held the same role in the 16-month government of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM). PMLN’s Attaullah Tarar, who won the election from Lahore, has been appointed information minister, while Khawaja Asif would lead the Defense Ministry, as he did during the PDM government.

Also among the names tapped for the new federal cabinet are PMLN’s Musadik Malik; former bureaucrat Ahad Cheema as an adviser to the prime minister; former Balochistan C.M. Jam Kamal and PML-Q’s Chaudhry Salik Hussain. Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP) leader Abdul Aleem Khan and PMLN’s Amir Muqam are also likely to be included in the federal cabinet, while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan would receive two ministries, including one for Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui.

Sardar Awais Leghari, Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh and Riaz Hussain Pirzada are also nominated as members of the federal cabinet.

The swearing-in of the federal cabinet follows the election of P.M. Shehbaz Sharif on March 3 and the election of President Asif Ali Zardari on March 9.

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