ISLAMABAD, March 28: The ruling coalition partners have finally agreed on the distribution of ministries and a formal announcement is expected ‘in a couple of days’.
In the first phase, sources said on Friday, up to 23 ministers were expected to take oath — 10 from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), nine from the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N), two from Awami National Party (ANP) and one each from Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F (JUI-F) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
After the election of the prime minister on March 24, the PPP and the PML-N had stated that the first batch of ministers would take oath on Saturday.
However, a spokesman for President Pervez Musharraf told Dawn on Friday that no oath-taking ceremony was scheduled at the Aiwan-i-Sadr for Saturday.
The president’s spokesman Maj-Gen (retd) Rashid Qureshi said he could not tell when the oath-taking would take place because “they (ruling parties) have not been able to finalise the cabinet”.
He said that the presidency had not received any summary from the Prime Minister’s House for the oath-taking ceremony.
“The president will take no time in administering the oath after receiving the summary,” he said.
The sources said that PPP co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif had approved a list of ministers. The potential PPP ministers and their possible portfolios are as follows: Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, foreign affairs; Syed Khurshid Shah, labour, manpower and overseas Pakistanis or parliamentary affairs; Sherry Rehman, information and broadcasting; Raja Pervez Ashraf, water and power; Syed Naveed Qamar, privatization or communications or ports and shipping; Farooq Naek, law, justice and parliamentary affairs; Qamar Zaman Kaira, Northern Areas and Kashmir Affairs or environment; Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, defence or commerce; Nazar Gondal, narcotics control and Babar Awan, human rights.
The following are the PML-N members whose names have been approved by the party:
Ishaq Dar, finance; Khwaja Mohammad Asif, petroleum and natural resources; Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, defence production; Ahsan Iqbal, education; Khawaja Saad Rafiq, youth affairs and Sardar Mehtab Abbasi, railways. Rana Tanveer and Tehmina Daultana are also expected to become ministers in the first phase of cabinet formation.
The sources said that the ANP had been asked to nominate its two ministers — one local government and rural development and the other for social welfare and special education. It is expected that Ghulam Ahmed Bilour and Khawaja Mohammad Hoti will represent the ANP in the cabinet.
Similarly, the sources said, the parties had agreed to induct Hamidullah Jan Afridi from Fata in the cabinet while the decision on the ministry to be given to the JUI-F was still pending.
It is learnt that Maulana Fazlur Rehman had expressed the desire for running the ministry of religious affairs, but the PPP was reluctant in giving the ministry to the Maulana’s party. There is a possibility that Maulana Fazlur Rehman might be made chairman of the parliament’s Kashmir Committee. The sources said that last-minute changes in portfolios were possible because consultations within parties and among coalition partners were still continuing.