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Delay in cabinet formation sets off speculation

June 06, 2013
Prime Minister & PML-N president Muhammad Nawaz Sharif chairing a high level meeting. File Photo by INP
Prime Minister & PML-N president Muhammad Nawaz Sharif chairing a high level meeting. File Photo by INP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who took oath of office on Wednesday surprisingly withheld the announcement of his cabinet although his party claims that the list of ministers has already been finalised.

When contacted, a senior PML-N leader who is expected to be in the new cabinet, said that Mr Sharif had already made up his mind about members of his cabinet and the first batch of 10 to 12 ministers would take oath in a day or two.

He said the prime minister wanted the cabinet to be sworn in on Thursday and the Presidency had already been informed about it. It was now up to the Presidency, he said, to arrange the ceremony as early as possible.

On the other hand, President’s spokesman Senator Farhatullah Khan Babar said no oath-taking ceremony had been planned at the Presidency on Thursday. He said he was not aware if the Presidency had received any request from the Prime Minister’s House or the Cabinet Division for such a ceremony.

Sources in the Presidency said President Zardari wanted to administer the oath to the new prime minister and his cabinet on Wednesday since he had other engagements over the next few days. However, they said, it appeared that Mr Sharif had deliberately delayed the cabinet’s oath-taking since he wanted to be in the limelight on the day he was elected the prime minister with more than two-thirds majority in the National Assembly.

There was no official word from the PML-N about the reason for delay in the announcement of the cabinet.

Sources in the PML-N told Dawn that Mr Sharif was taking time in finalising the cabinet because there was a long list of aspirants and he wanted to have a small cabinet.

They said Ishaq Dar, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Ahsan Iqbal, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Zahid Hamid, Khurram Dastagir Khan, Khawaja Saad Rafiq, Abdul Qadir Baloch, Sardar Yousuf, Kamran Michael and Pervez Rashid were among those expected to take oath as federal ministers in the first batch.

The sources said Pir Sadaruddin Shah Rashidi of the PML-Functional and Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi of the National People’s Party (NPP) were also expected to be in the cabinet. The NPP leaders have already announced merger of their party into the PML-N.

Besides, the sources said, the leadership was also considering names of Anusha Rehman, Saira Afzal Tarar and Sumaira Malik for inclusion in the federal cabinet with a view to giving representation to women.