ISLAMABAD: The new premier not only faces several challenges on the judicial front, but also a shaky alliance with the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q).
Only one member from the allied PML-Q – Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi – took oath as a Cabinet member when Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and his 38-member cabinet were administered oath of their offices.
The PML-Q, which had been promised the office of deputy prime minister and more than two dozen ministries when it joined the PPP-led ruling coalition in 2011, was not happy with the ministries allocated to its members in former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s Cabinet.
The former premier reportedly did not agree on the creation of the office of a deputy prime minister, saying there was no such post in the constitution, and that any senior minister can act as the prime minister in the latter’s absence.
In return for supporting the new prime minister this time, the PML-Q had some tough bargaining with the PPP, besides the office of the deputy premier.
Sources said the PML-Q wanted some lucrative ministries and extra development funds for its members in the recent bargain.
On paper, the PML-Q has 51 members in the National Assembly and is the second largest party after the PPP in the ruling coalition. However, it bargained on behalf of 45 members which, its leadership claims, are fully with them.
The party’s internal rifts came to the fore when five members belonging to its break-away faction, the PML-Likeminded, abstained from voting for the new premier. Another rift was witnessed when PML-Q’s Faisal Saleh Hayat refused to cast his vote for Ashraf. Hayat had moved the Supreme Court against Ashraf in the rental power plant case before his party joined the PPP-led government, and he was made the minister for housing in Gilani’s Cabinet.
Leaders of coalition parties, however, convinced him to vote for Ashraf.
The PPP leadership, under a new agreement with the PML-Q, is supposed to issue a notification to declare Elahi deputy prime minister by amending rules within 24 hours after the election of the new prime minister, said PML-Q’s information secretary Senator Kamil Ali Aga while speaking with The Express Tribune.
When asked why no other PML-Q member took oath, Aga said they would be taking oath in the next phase. This time, the PML-Q quota of ministries has to be increased to 16 in the new Cabinet, from 14 in Gilani’s Cabinet, he said.
He added that negotiations were under way over allocation of portfolios to potential ministers from his party.
Besides Elahi as senior minister, Ashraf’s new Cabinet has 27 federal and 11 state ministers from the PPP and its allied parties.
Those who took oath as federal ministers included Makhdoom Ameen Faheem, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Nazar Muhammad Gondal, Haji Khuda Buksh Rajar, Dr Farooq Sattar, Senator Maula Buksh Chandio, Mian Mohammad Manzoor Wattoo, Mir Changez Khan Jamali, Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah, Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, Senator Babar Khan Ghauri, Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, Mir Israrullah Zehri, Senator Farooq H Naek, Dr Arbab Alamgir Khan, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Chaudhry Pervaiz Ellahi, Makhdoom Shahabuddin, Syed Naveed Qamar, Farzana Raja, Eng Shaukatullah, Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, Rana Mohammad Farooq Saeed Khan, Mrs Sameena Khalid Gurki, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan and Sardar Alhaj Muhammad Omar Gorgeig.
Those who took oath as ministers of state included Sardar Saleem Haider Khan, Moazzam Ali Jatoi, Malik Azmat Khan, Syed Sumsam Ali Bukhari, Tasneem Ahmed Qureshi, Dr Nadeem Ahsan, Nawabzada Malik Amaad Khan, Abbas Khan Afridi, Chaudhry Imtiaz Safdar Warraich, Dost Mohammad Mazari and Ms Raheela Baloch.