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PML-N’s top guns jostle for key positions

May 16, 2013
Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif.—File Photo
Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) chief Nawaz Sharif.—File Photo

ISLAMABAD, May 15: As the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is set to form its governments at the centre and in Punjab in a couple of weeks, a number of its legislators have started lobbying to get coveted offices in the cabinet.

Sources in the party told Dawn that Nawaz Sharif had so far not held consultations on the formation of his cabinet and was expected to do this after his visit to Saudi Arabia soon.

The sources said Mr Sharif had not even decided whether Shahbaz Sharif would retain his provincial assembly seat or that in the National Assembly. The younger Sharif has already expressed a desire to become the Punjab chief minister for another term.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan is also said to be in the run for the office of the Punjab chief minister, but his chances are slim because a strong group within the party has opposed him.

Ishaq Dar and Ahsan Iqbal are considered to be strong contenders for the foreign minister’s portfolio.

A source in the party said if Mr Dar was appointed as foreign minister, Sartaj Aziz could be made adviser to the prime minister on finance and Mr Iqbal could be given the water and power portfolio.

Senator Pervez Rashid is being tipped for the post of federal information minister.

Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry, an MNA-elect from Islamabad, was being considered for the post of deputy speaker of the National Assembly. The PML-N leadership was also said to be discussing the names of Sumaira Malik and Saira Afzal Tarar for the same post.

The sources said the party leadership wanted to nominate someone from Balochistan or Khyber Pakhtunkhawa as speaker of the National Assembly.

Mr Sharif, they said, wanted Pakhtunkhawa Milli Awami Party chief Mehmood Khan Achakzai to become the speaker and had constituted a team under MNA-elect Sardar Ayaz Sadiq to contact Mr Achakzai for his consent.

Senator Pervez Rashid termed all reports about cabinet formation speculative and said no decision had been made so far.

He said since the prime minister belonged to Punjab, it was unlikely that all key ministries would be given to people from the same province because this would send a bad message to other provinces.