ISLAMABAD, Nov 15: Senate Chairman Mohammadmian Soomro will take oath as the caretaker prime minister on Friday morning after dissolution of the National Assembly on completion of its five-year term, sources told Dawn.

The sources said Gen Musharraf disclosed his choice for the premiership at a farewell dinner he hosted at the presidency for the outgoing members of the National Assembly belonging to the ruling coalition.

The appointment of Mr Soomro as the caretaker prime minister, primarily meant to oversee the next general election, surprised political observers here as the government had all along been saying that a “non-political” and “non-partisan” person would be given the job to ensure free and transparent elections.

The appointment of a neutral personality was one of the major demands of the opposition parties. The leaders of all major opposition parties on Thursday said they had not been consulted by the government over the names for the caretaker set-up.

Mr Soomro is a confidant of Gen Musharraf and won the Senate election on a PML-Q ticket from Sindh.

The sources said Mr Soomro would not quit his Senate office after taking oath on Friday and would resume his duties as Senate chairman after the general election.

The sources said that besides Mr Soomro, a 17-member cabinet was also expected to be administered oath by President Pervez Musharraf at a ceremony to be held at the Presidency at 10.30am.

The caretaker cabinet contains a few people who had previously served in the cabinet of Gen Musharraf when he was the chief executive before the Oct 2002 election.

The sources said Inamul Haq, a former foreign secretary, would take oath as the caretaker foreign minister while former State Bank governor Dr Ishrat Hussain would be the finance minister.

A former defence secretary, Saleem Abbas Jilani, is likely to take oath as defence minister while ex-Wapda chairman Tariq Hameed would hold the water and power portfolio.

A surprise inclusion in the caretaker cabinet is that of Salman Taseer, a businessman and former PPP stalwart. He has been asked to take charge of the commerce ministry.

Senator Nisar Memon is tipped as the information minister and Afzal Haider, a former member of the Council of Islamic Ideology, is likely to be appointed law minister. Barrister Saif Muhammad, who came to the limelight during the hearing of the case against the suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry, would be his deputy.

Abbas Sarfaraz Khan, who had served as Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs in the previous Musharraf cabinet, is again being given the job. Similarly, another member of the previous Musharraf cabinet, S.K. Tressler, is expected to be a member of the caretaker set-up.

The sources said Ijaz Rahim, a former secretary in the Sindh government, Nisar Mohammad Khan, a veteran PML-Q leader from the NWFP, and Pir of Taunsa Sharif Khwaja Attaullah have also been included in the caretaker cabinet.

Raja Tridev Roy, who has served Pakistan as ambassador in a number of countries and already enjoys the status of a federal minister for life, is also likely to take oath as minister. Mr Roy is a fiction writer and leads the Buddhist community in the country.

Besides these, there are some unfamiliar names in the caretaker set-up, eg Hameeda Dharejo, Dr Abdullah and Dr Abdul Qadir.

Mr Soomro served as Sindh governor from May 25, 2000, to Dec 26, 2002, before contesting the Senate elections. He comes from a prominent political family of Sindh which has been active in public life since 1923.

His father, the late Ahmed Mian Soomro, was deputy speaker of the West Pakistan Assembly and a member of the Senate, helping establish the Senate committee system.

Born on Aug 19, 1950, Mr Soomro earned a B.Sc degree from Forman Christian College, Lahore. He obtained an M.Sc in physics from the Punjab University, followed by an M.Sc in operations management from the Northrop University, US.

An internationally-recognised banker, Mr Soomro has served in executive positions at home and abroad in such organizations as the Bank of America, Faysal Islamic Bank and the Agriculture Development Bank of Pakistan.

DISSOLUTION ORDER: The ministry of parliamentary affairs on Thursday issued a notification regarding the dissolution of the National Assembly on the completion of its five-year term.It was the first National Assembly in the country’s 37-year parliamentary history to have completed its term.

Before the outgoing assembly, only the first National Assembly which came into existence after the 1970 elections, had completed four parliamentary years.

“In pursuance of Article 52 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, read with clause (1) of Article 2 of the Provisional Constitution Order No 1 of 2007 dated Nov 3, 2007, the National Assembly stands dissolved on the expiration of its term of five years on the 15th day of November, 2007,” the notification said.

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