Around a dozen new federal ministers are set to take oath and become part of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet today (Friday).
According to sources, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Pervez Rashid, Ishaq Dar, Pir Sadaruddin Shah Rashdi, Murtaza Jatoi, Tariq Fatemi, Ahsan Iqbal, Abdul Qadir Baloch and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi will be taking the oath in the first phase of the cabinet formation. The oath will be administered by President Asif Ali Zardari at the President’s House at 4pm.
The sources said so far six portfolios have been finalised. Chaudhry Nisar is set to be appointed as the interior minister, Ishaq Dar as the finance minister, Tariq Fatemi as an adviser on foreign affairs, Pervez Rashid as information minister, Khawaja Asif as the water and power minister and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as the minister for petroleum and natural resources, they maintained.
Talking to The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity, a senior PML-N leader said that while the cabinet in the initial phase would consist of 10-12 ministers, it would eventually be expanded to 25 or 26 members, including state ministers and advisers.
“Nothing pertaining to the cabinet has been finalised apart from key portfolios and there could be a surprise as far as the new faces and their portfolios are concerned,” said the PML-N leader.
“There could be unexpected people in the cabinet… I can tell you that even the big leaders are unaware of the people who will be in the cabinet,” he added.
According to the PML-N leader, while a coalition partner from PML-Functional will be included in the cabinet, there is little chance of accommodating Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl in the initial round.
He said JUI-F had demanded three portfolios but the PML-N leadership is only willing to offer one. This, he maintained, was the reason behind the deadlock between the two parties.
The PML-N leader confirmed the portfolios of Nisar, Dar, Rashid, Khawaja Asif and Fatemi. He said there was a chance that Gen (retd) Abdul Qadir Baloch would be given the ministry of defence production.
He added that Balighur Rehman and Arshad Leghari from southern Punjab would also be accommodated in the cabinet. The leader said, however, that the Khoso family was unlikely to be accommodated in the cabinet.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2013.