Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif finalised on Sunday initially a 25-member plus federal cabinet, keeping 14 portfolios for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and giving 11 to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and other allies of the government.
PM Shehbaz, who has thus far been running a one-man show since assuming office, hammered out the details of the distribution of the portfolios in consultation with the coalition partners of the PML-N government.
A formal announcement, as well as oath-taking, was expected on Monday (today), PML-N officials said.
Among others, sources said, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari was expected to take the portfolio of the foreign ministry and become the next foreign minister. Initially, it was being said that the PPP chairman might not become a member of PM Shehbaz’s cabinet but now several PPP officials have confirmed that he would take charge of the foreign minister.
Apart from the federal minister, they said, the cabinet might also include state ministers, advisors and special assistants. They added that the new batch of the federal cabinet, as announced by the premier, was expected to be finalized in the next week or two.
Sources privy to the development said that PML-N was keeping portfolios of finance, interior, information, defence, commerce, energy, planning, and petroleum, among others.Former finance minister Miftah Ismail is expected to become the country’s new finance minister after being made an aide to the premier.
READ ‘PPP may not accept ministries in new cabinet’
They said that PPP has expressed keen interest in foreign affairs and human rights ministries, adding that PPP and MQM-P were expected to decide who would keep overseas and maritime ministries.
Also, they added, PPP and MQM-P were in consultation over the governorship of Sindh, saying they were expected to give a name with consensus. PPP sources, however, said that PPP and MQM-P were also discussing the mayorship of Karachi and Hyderabad along with governorship, saying these will help finalize if MQM-P would become part of the federal cabinet or just keep these three positions.
MQM-P sources, however, emphasized that they were more interested in seeing the agreements made with PPP and PML-N leadership implemented in the coming days.
Apart from portfolios of the federal cabinet, PPP is eying the post of the chairman senate for former premier Yousaf Raza Gillani, who was defeated by the incumbent Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani in the Senate elections last year.
Commenting on the speculations about a tussle between former president Asif Ali Zardari and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, sources in PML-N and PPP said that no such tussle was going on as the slot is not yet available. If the President doesn’t resign, they said, votes of not less than two-thirds of the total membership of the parliament would be needed to remove the President.
Under Article 47(removal or impeachment of President), the President can be removed from office on the ground of physical or mental incapacity or impeached on a charge of violating the Constitution or gross misconduct.
JUI-F officials also denied the rumours, saying the party has not asked for any position, including that of the President, or portfolios in the federal cabinet. They said that the major objective before the JUI-F, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and PDM’s allies – PPP and ANP – was the removal of the former premier Imran Khan, which was achieved through a no-confidence motion.
The JUI-F officials said that Maulana led the opposition alliance to oust Imran Khan from power and not to take ministries or positions in the government, which might announce fresh elections once the electoral reforms were completed.
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