Pakistan’s new federal cabinet members took oath Friday morning at the President House in Islamabad.
President Mamnoon Hussain administered oath to 48 members of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s cabinet.
While old faces returned to the cabinet, they saw a major shuffle in their portfolios. Khawaja Asif, previously who served as minister for water and power during the previous cabinet was sworn in as foreign minister.
Ahsan Iqbal, who worked as minister for planning and development under Nawaz, will be the interior minister after PML-N top leadership failed to convince Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan to join Abbasi’s cabinet.
Ishaq Dar continues as finance minister and Khurum Dastagir, who was minister for commerce earlier, will now serve as minister for defence. Further, Marriyum Aurangzeb has retained the portfolio of State Information Minister and Mushahidullah Khan is back in the cabinet as Federal Minister of Climate Change.
New faces to the cabinet include Talal Chaudhry, Daniyal Aziz, Pervez Malik, Junaid Anwar, Mohsin Ranjha, Arshad Leghari and Hafiz Abdul Karim.
Political observers believe the choice of new cabinet members gives an indication that the ruling party is planning to go into a confrontational mode with aggressive politics in the coming months.
The anxiously-awaited oath-taking ceremony earlier saw an unexpected postponement on Wednesday after the ruling PML-N’s top leaders could not finalise the candidates to be inducted as cabinet members.
The PML-N top leadership had been holding marathon huddles during the past many days in Murree. Besides finalising Abbasi’s cabinet, the party leadership has been having brainstorming sessions to devise the future course of action. Among other important issues being deliberated for the past few days in a series of meetings in Murree where former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has been living after being deposed from office is the elevation of Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif to the centre as new prime minister.
Sources in the PML-N say the younger Sharif is reluctant to leave Punjab – the province he has been governing continuously since 2008 with an iron grip. Close circles of Shehbaz claim that the chief minister feels his continuation as the chief executive of Punjab is important given the next general elections are less than a year away.