The Prime Minister’s Office announced a major reshuffle of the federal cabinet on Thursday, with key portfolios of finance, information, health and petroleum division seeing new faces.
Hafeez Shaikh, adviser on finance
Born in 1955, Dr Hafeez Shaikh holds a PhD in economics from Boston University. Having worked at Harvard Institute of Development and assumed key offices at the World Bank, Shaikh has over 30 years of experience under his belt in economic policymaking, management and implementation.
During General Pervez Musharraf’s era, Shaikh assumed offices in both the Sindh and federal governments.
After General Musharraf declared himself President, Shaikh was appointed minister for finance, planning and development for Sindh. He is esteemed to be the architect of Sindh’s financial recovery during his successful 2000-2002 tenure.
He has been elected senator thrice. Shaikh’s three years as the federal minister for privatisation and investment were considered most successful in Pakistan’s history.
His last assignment was as the federal minister for finance in the last Pakistan Peoples Party government.
Though Shaikh remained finance minister between 2010 and 2013, he was unsuccessful in steering the economy out of crisis. Due to this, he was bitterly criticised by the opposition.
Firdous Ashiq Awan, special assistant to PM on information
Firdous Ashiq Awan started her political career in the mid-90s while completing her house-job at Ganga Ram Hospital, Lahore after successfully getting her MBBS degree from Fatima Jinnah Medical College.
Back then, she laid the foundation of the Society for Health and Development Exchange (SHADE) to ensure public relief work in the department of health.
Later, during the tenure of former president General Musharraf, Awan was elected a district council member in Sialkot on a PML-Q ticket, after the former increased the number of special seats for women in local bodies.
In the general elections of 2002, she was elected an MNA on the same party’s ticket and was also appointed a parliamentary secretary. Unlike several other women who made their foray into politics, Awan continued to progress and initiated development work in a village of Sialkot near the Indian border.
There Awan faced a difficult task as then National Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Amir Hussain belonged to the same constituency and maintained public gatherings. Awan refused to be influenced or take pressure and continued her political journey.
As a self-made politician and woman, Awan did not flee and stood her ground firmly against Hussain. While it was quite impossible for her to bypass the politician, Awan called on former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in London and subsequently announced joining the PPP before the general elections.
In 2008, she defeated Hussain with a huge margin, creating an upset for the rival party. Under the PPP government, Awan first became a minister for population welfare and then an information minister.
Awan said goodbye to the PPP in June 2017 to join the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
Zafarullah Mirza, special assistant to PM on health
Dr Zafarullah Mirza has formerly worked at World Health Organisation in different capacities.
He holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from Rawalpindi Medical College, as well as a Master’s of Science degree in Public Health in Developing Countries from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Nadeem Babar, special assistant to PM on Petroleum Division
Nadeem Babar has served in various honorary capacities in the government. Most recently, he was appointed as a member of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Committee on Power Sector Reforms.