ISLAMABAD, June 27: President Asif Ali Zardari administered oath of office to Riaz Hussain Pirzada, an MNA from Bahawalpur, as a federal minister on Thursday.

Mr Pirzada joined the PML-N only a few months before general elections. With his induction, the size of the federal cabinet has gone up to 28 — 17 ministers, eight ministers of state, two advisers and one special assistant to prime minister.

When contacted, Mr Pirzada said he did not know which portfolio he would get since no notification had been issued by the Cabinet Division.

Replying to a question, Mr Pirzada, who had also served as federal minister in the previous government, said he had not discussed the issue of portfolio with the party leadership. “I don’t know” was his reply when asked about the possibility of his becoming the law minister.

There has been no law minister since June 22 when Zahid Hamid quit the portfolio after filing of a petition by a lawyer seeking his trial along with retired Gen Pervez Musharraf for “high treason” because he was law minister in the cabinet of the former dictator. Mr Hamid has now been allocated the portfolio of science and technology.

Meanwhile, sources in the PML-N said the chances of Mr Pirzada becoming the law minister were slim for various reasons. The law minister’s portfolio has acquired significance after the government’s announcement that it would try Gen Musharraf for high treason.c

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