ISLAMABAD: Three legislators were inducted into the federal cabinet on Thursday, raising its strength to 36. Two of the new ministers belong to the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F) and the third is a legislator from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
Meanwhile, PML-N’s Khurram Dastagir, already in the cabinet as a minister of state, was sworn in as commerce minister.
President Mamnoon Hussain administered the oath of office to the ministers — Akram Khan Durrani (minister) and Abdul Ghafoor Haideri (minister of state) of the JUI-F and Abbas Afridi, a Fata legislator (minister).
Mr Afridi served as minister of state in the last PPP government.
The JUI-F took six months to decide to join the cabinet. Its spokesman Jan Achakzai told Dawn that the JUI-F was already part of the ruling coalition. It held the chairmanships of some parliamentary committees, including the Kashmir Committee. Besides, he said, Mohammad Khan Sheerani of the JUI-F was head of the Council of Islamic Ideology.
Mr Achakzai said his party had sought two federal ministries and chairmanships of four parliamentary committees. The PML-N and JUI-F had reached an accord several months ago but because of hectic engagements of the government its members could not join the cabinet.
He said that despite joining the cabinet, the JUI-F would continue to criticise any government policy which it thought was harmful for the country and the people.
The JUI-F is reported to have demanded two cabinet posts in July last year in exchange for supporting Mamnoon Hussain in the presidential election.
At that time, Maulana Fazlur Rehman told reporters that his party had extended “unconditional support” to Mr Hussain. Later he said in a statement that the party would submit the names of its ministers at an appropriate time.
Abbas Afridi told Dawn that although he had worked with the PPP government, he would strive to deliver while working with the present government.
Answering a question, he said he would ask the ruling party to induct more legislators from Fata into the federal cabinet. About the government’s policy to hold talks with the Taliban, he said he would follow the decision taken by an all-party conference in September last year.