Bilawal may take over reins of foreign ministry again

PML-N and PPP close to finalising power-sharing deal

Kamran Yousaf May 05, 2024
Former foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE


PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is likely to return as the country’s foreign minister as the ruling PML-N and his party are close to finalising a power-sharing deal, according to people familiar with the development.

If the insiders are to be believed, Bilawal will join the cabinet of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif with the portfolio of the foreign ministry.

Sources said the party bigwigs had recently reached an understanding during their talks.

They claimed that Bilawal, who was initially reluctant to join the cabinet, agreed to become the foreign minister for the second time.

The two sides are now working on the details and the timing of the PPP’s formal induction into the federal cabinet.

Read more: Shehbaz, Bilawal finalise names for governors

The sources said PM Shehbaz wanted the PPP to join the cabinet before the presentation of the next budget in the first week of June.

It is unclear whether the PPP will join the cabinet before or after the budget.

However, the sources said with certainty that the PPP would be part of the federal cabinet in June.

The incumbent foreign minister, Ishaq Dar, was appointed as the deputy premier to allow Bilawal to take over as the top diplomat.

The sources said Dar's office was being set up at the PM’s Office.

They added that Dar would operate from there once he vacated the Foreign Office for Bilawal.

Also read: Bilawal asks govt to run PIA, PSM in PPP mode

According to the sources, Dar was never comfortable as the foreign minister as he always wanted to look after his favourite finance ministry.

However, PM Shehbaz and others in the PML-N wanted to keep him at bay as far as the finance ministry was concerned.

Nevertheless, he managed to convince the premier to appoint him as his deputy.

As the deputy prime minister, Dar could potentially oversee the government's economic policies once again.

There has been feeling within the PPP that when Bilawal served as the foreign minister during the previous coalition government for 16 months, it immensely enhanced his local and international profile.

The PPP believes that Bilawal's return to the Foreign Office will only benefit him and the party.

The final decision about the PPP joining the federal cabinet will be taken by the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC).

After the February 8 elections, the PPP decided to back the PML-N to form the federal government but refused to join the cabinet.

There was, however, an understanding between the two parties that the PPP would be become a part of the government at a later stage.

As the PML-N has fulfilled its commitment by allowing the PPP to appoint its men as governors in three provinces besides clinching two other constitutional positions -- the presidency and the Senate chairmanship -- the latter will return the favour by joining the federal cabinet.

Sources in the Foreign Office said Bilawal was a good choice for the post.

They added that Bilawal had proven himself to be a competent foreign minister during his 16-month stint before the elections.


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