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New cabinet takes oath: Khawaja Asif foreign minister, Ahsan Iqbal interior minister

Updated August 04, 2017

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Members of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi's cabinet take oath at a ceremony held at the Presidency. ─DawnNews

Members of the new federal cabinet took oath at a ceremony organised at the Presidency in Islamabad on Friday morning.

President Mamnoon Hussain administered the oath to 43 members of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi's cabinet comprising mostly old faces but with some reshuffled portfolios.

The cabinet comprises 27 federal ministers and 16 state ministers.

The names of the cabinet members and their portfolios were finalised by PM Abbasi after six-hour-long consultations with his predecessor Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in Murree on Thursday.

Cabinet members take oath at the ceremony in the Presidency. —Online
Cabinet members take oath at the ceremony in the Presidency. —Online

Khawaja Muhammad Asif, earlier the defence minister in Nawaz Sharif's government, will serve as the country’s new foreign minister. The country remained without a foreign minister after 2013 when the PML-N came into power. The last foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, was appointed by the PPP.

Ahsan Iqbal, former minister for planning, will take charge of the key interior ministry in Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi's government.

Ishaq Dar will continue as finance minister whereas Pervez Malik will be the new minister for commerce in place of Khurram Dastagir Khan, who will take charge of the defence ministry.

Saad Rafique will retain his post as minister of railways.

Talal Chaudhry from Faisalabad, Arshad Leghari from Rahim Yar Khan and Junaid Anwar Chaudhry from Toba Tek Singh are said to be among the newcomers in the cabinet. Daniyal Aziz from Narowal, who was also expected to take oath, did not attend the ceremony.

Marriyum Aurangzeb, Zahid Hamid and Dr Tariq Fazal Chaudhry are expected to retain their previous portfolios. Hamid was law minister and Aurangzeb minister of state for information in the previous cabinet of the ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif. She had replaced Pervez Rashid. Tariq Fazal was in charge of the Capital Administration and Development Division.

PMl-N's information secretary Mushahidullah Khan returned to the cabinet as minister of climate change. He had been expelled by Sharif for issuing a controversial statement accusing the ISI of sponsoring the Pakistan Tehreek-Insaf’s sit-in in 2014.

A new government

The PML-N had been deliberating over membership of the new cabinet over the past few days, as well as its contender for the upcoming NA-120 by-poll for the seat left vacant by ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

The federal cabinet was dissolved after Sharif stepped down following a landmark Supreme Court ruling on the Panama Papers case.

The court in its July 28 verdict concluded that Sharif had been 'dishonest' by not declaring in his nomination papers for the 2013 General Election ─ as required under Section 12(2)(f) of the Representation of the People Act (ROPA), 1976 ─ a salary of 10,000 dirhams receivable as chairman of the board of Dubai-based company Capital FZE owned by his son Hassan Nawaz.

Following the prime minister's ouster, PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was nominated as the party's choice for interim prime minister. He was elected premier by MNAs on Tuesday, and took oath on the same day.

Abbasi, in his maiden speech to the National Assembly following his election, put forward his vision to improve the socio-economic conditions and security situation in the country, showing that he has some personal ambitions apart from PML-N guidelines.

"I am the country’s prime minister. If I am here for 45 days, I will do 45 months' work in this time," he promised.

Directions for federal ministers

The prime minister directed federal ministers to not seek permission for travel abroad unless the visit pertains to their respective ministries, according to an order from the PM office.

The directions further stated that the ministers should only inform the PM office about the dates on which official travel arrangements are required.

Prime Minister Abbasi further decided that federal ministers should retain full authority for allowing travel to Ministers of State and all officers working in their respective ministries, divisions, attached departments and autonomous bodies under their control, the order said.

According to the order, federal ministers and their federal secretaries will not be able to travel at the same time unless absolutely necessary, in which case the prime minister shall be informed beforehand.

Federal ministers and state ministers have been directed to, “work diligently and complete all ongoing projects on top-priority with utmost transparency and quality of works.”