Politics

President Zardari Swears in PM Shehbaz’s 19-Member Cabinet

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s 19-member federal cabinet was sworn in on Monday by President Asif Ali Zardari at the Awan-e-Sadr. The new cabinet comprises mostly of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmakers, along with one representative each from Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP).

According to a summary sent to the president by the prime minister, the cabinet members were appointed under clause 1 of Article 92 and clause 9 of Article 91 of the Constitution. Clause 1 allows the prime minister to appoint any member of parliament as a federal minister, while clause 9 allows the prime minister to appoint anyone who is not a member of parliament as a federal minister for a period of six months.

The cabinet members who were appointed under clause 1 include PML-N’s Khawaja Asif (defence), Ahsan Iqbal (planning), Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh, Riaz Hussain Pirzada, Rana Tanveer, Azam Nazeer Tarar (law), Jam Kamal Khan, Amir Muqam, Awais Leghari and Attaullah Tarar (information and broadcasting), MQM-P’s Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and IPP’s Abdul Aleem Khan. Their portfolios will be announced later.

The cabinet members who were appointed under clause 9 include PML-N’s Ishaq Dar (foreign affairs), Musadik Malik (petroleum), Muhammad Aurangzeb (finance), Ahad Khan Cheema (establishment division) and Syed Mohsin Raza Naqvi (interior). They will cease to be senators on March 12 (tomorrow) following the end of their Senate term. They will have to get elected to the parliament within six months to retain their cabinet positions.

The only woman in the cabinet is PML-N’s Shaza Fatima, who will serve as a state minister for information technology and telecommunication. She was also appointed under clause 1 of Article 92.

Sources said that the prime minister has decided to keep his cabinet small for some time, but more ministers will be inducted in the second phase. The sources added that the prime minister has given priority to his party loyalists and allies, while also ensuring regional and ethnic representation in the cabinet.

The oath-taking ceremony of the cabinet was attended by senior political leaders, civil and military officials, diplomats and media persons. The ceremony came a week after PM Shehbaz took the oath of office as the 24th premier of the country, and a day after President Zardari took the oath of office as the head of state.

The prime minister has summoned the first meeting of the federal cabinet at 5pm today, where the ministers will be handed over their portfolios and briefed on the government’s agenda and priorities. The cabinet is expected to discuss the security situation, the economic challenges, the foreign policy issues and the upcoming Senate elections. The cabinet is also likely to approve the formation of various committees and sub-committees to oversee the implementation of the government’s policies and programmes.

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