ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has inducted four new ministers into his cabinet. With the inclusion of these lawmakers – all belonging to the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) – the federal cabinet has become 25-strong.
According to an official handout issued by the PM Office on Saturday, MNA Omar Ayub Khan will be assigned the portfolio of energy, MNA Ali Zaidi will be given the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Muhammadmian Soomro will look after the affairs of privatisation. The portfolio for MNA Murad Saeed is yet to be decided.
The ministers-designate will take oath of their respective ministries on Monday (tomorrow). President-elect Dr Arif Alvi – who is scheduled to take oath of his office today (Sunday) – will administer the oath.
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With the new inductions, the cabinet will now have 20 federal ministers, one state minister and four advisers to prime minister. Besides this cabinet, the PM also has three special assistants – one each on media, political affairs and accountability.
According to the Constitution of Pakistan, the maximum strength of the federal cabinet cannot be more than 49 members as per the formula defined in the 18th Constitutional Amendment.
The Constitution also enables the prime minister to have a maximum of five advisers at a time. However, it is silent about the maximum number of special assistants the PM can have.
Out of 20 federal ministers, 14 belong to the PTI while six are from allied parties including two from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, and one each from the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid, the Awami Muslim League, the Grand Democratic Alliance, and the Balochistan Awami Party. The sole minister of state, Sheharyar Afridi, also belongs to the PTI.
Muhammadmian Soomro, the former interim PM and former Senate chairman, who is nominated for the privatisation ministry, had joined the PTI in June 2018. Omar Ayub Khan was a minister of state for finance in Shaukat Aziz’s cabinet. He joined the PTI in February 2018.
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Ali Zaidi is an old-timer who joined the PTI in 1999. During his association with the party spanning nearly two decades, he contested general elections thrice on a PTI ticket – in 2002, 2013 and 2018. Zaidi has also held several senior party positions, including that of president of the PTI Karachi region.
Murad Saeed, who will be assigned a ministry later, is also an old face and is considered a diehard activist of the PTI. PM Khan in the past strongly criticised the last federal government of the PML-N for keeping a large-sized cabinet and over half-a-dozen special assistants.
Former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s cabinet consisted of 51 members, including 32 federal ministers, 15 state ministers and four advisers. Besides, Abbasi had eight special assistants with status equivalent to either a minister of state or the federal minister.
Abbasi’s predecessor, Nawaz Sharif, however, had a cabinet comprising 39 members, including 23 federal ministers, 14 state ministers and two advisers to the PM. Sharif also had two special assistants.