ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi allocated on Thursday portfolios to his newly inducted advisers and special assistants in one of the biggest federal cabinets of the country.
The advisers and special assistants are almost the same with the same portfolios they were given in the cabinet of disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
The number of cabinet members has so far risen to 58, with 29 federal ministers, 18 ministers of state, six advisers and five special assistants to the prime ministers. Sartaz Aziz has been made the PM’s adviser by virtue of his office as deputy chairman of the Planning Commission.
Former prime minister Shaukat Aziz had more than 70 cabinet members, while the number was over 60 in the cabinet of the last government of the Pakistan Peoples Party.
According to a notification issued on Thursday, Amir Muqam has been made the PM’s Adviser on Political Affairs, Irfan Sidiqqui has become the PM’s Adviser on National History and Literary Heritage, Jam Mashooq Ali has been allocated the portfolio of Adviser on Indus River System Authority Affairs and Mehtab Ahmed Khan has been made the PM’s Adviser on Aviation. They will have the status of federal minister.
The notification further said that Dr Asif Saeed Kirmani has been made Special Adviser to the PM (SAPM) on Political Affairs, Miftah Ismail has been appointed as SAPM on Economic Affairs, Dr Musadik Malik has been appointed as SAPM on Media Affairs, Barrister Zafarullah Khan has been given the slot of SAPM on Law and Khawaja Zaheer Ahmed has become SAPM on Institutional Reforms. They will have the status of minister of state.
It has been learnt that Prime Minister Abbasi was facing a difficult situation on the issue of portfolios of federal cabinet members as some of them were reluctant to take the slots offered to them.
As a result of the situation, notifications regarding portfolios of some federal and state ministers have so far not been issued.
Inside sources said the prime minister was trying to pacify the agitating cabinet members so that they accept the portfolios being awarded to them.
Newly appointed federal minister Daniyal Aziz was promised the ministry of privatisation, but official notification has not yet been issued by Prime Minister Office.
Similarly, another cabinet member Awais Leghari was reportedly offered the ministry of science and technology, but he refused to accept it. A media report said both Mr Aziz and Mr Leghari were demanding the ministry of privatisation.
Like both these ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders, some ministers of state were also waiting for their portfolios because no such notifications have so far been issued in their cases too.
Talking to Dawn, Daniyal Aziz said he deserved the ministry of privatisation more than any other cabinet member because of his educational background and his services rendered to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank in the field of economics.
“The prime minister has promised me that he will allocate me the ministry of privatisation because he knows my skills,” he said.
Asked why notification of his portfolio has not been issued, he said he was not aware.
In reply to a question, he said earlier Mr Leghari was interested in the water resources ministry, but why he was now asking for the ministry of privatisation.
When contacted, Mr Leghari said he would accept any ministry because he was confident that the prime minister would make a wise decision. “I have full confidence in the prime minister because he knows my capabilities,” he added.
“The prime minister will definitely task me with something which I can perform well,” he said when asked whether he was asking for the ministry of privatisation.
Published in Dawn, August 18th, 2017