ISLAMABAD: Former finance minister Asad Umar is set to stage a comeback in the federal cabinet, replacing Khusro Bakhtiar as the planning minister, Prime Minister’s Special Assistant on Information and Broadcasting Firdous Ashiq Awan announced on Monday.
Firdous made the announcement on Twitter, saying that “changes and expansion” was taking place in the cabinet.
She did not provide the details of the ministerial reshuffle but said a notification on the changes would be issued soon. “Changes and expansion in the federal cabinet… it has been decided that Asad Umar will be appointed as the minister for planning and special initiatives whereas Khusro Bakhtiar will be given the charge of the petroleum ministry,” she tweeted. “A notification … will be issued soon.”
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) stalwart Asad Umar became finance minister soon after Prime Minister Imran Khan took oath of office in August last year. Umar stepped down from the post in April amid criticism over the government’s economic policies.
After his departure, the prime minister appointed Hafeez Sheikh as his adviser on economic affairs. Umar; however, was made chairman of the National Assembly Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs.
Media reports have indicated that Umar was approached many times in the past by senior party colleagues to re-join the cabinet but he refused.
He had said that he obtained Prime Minister Imran Khan’s consent “not to take any cabinet position”.
However, last month, Prime Minister Imran had hinted at some changes in the cabinet, while Umar, in a newspaper interview, had also indicated that he might return to the federal cabinet.
Imran has repeatedly said that the ministers “who will not deliver will be removed”. Umar is expected to take oath as the minister for “planning and special initiatives”.
His predecessor at the Planning and Development ministry, Khusro Bakhtiar, has been assigned the petroleum ministry.
Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry congratulated Umar for his comeback in the federal cabinet. “Waoow Congs @ Asad_Umar welcome back in the Cabinet … wish you all the best”, he tweeted.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 19th, 2019.