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LAHORE: A six-member caretaker Punjab cabinet took oath on Monday and committed to stay apolitical and hold general elections 2018 in the province in a free, fair and peaceful manner.

The cabinet is expected to be expanded to 10 members as the officials concerned are contacting different professionals, including women in this connection, a source in the cabinet said.

Mr Zafar Mahmood, Dr Jawad Sajid Khan, Shaukat Javed, Anjum Nisar, Zia H Rizvi and Ahmad Waqas Riaz took oath of their offices at a ceremony held at Governor House here.

Punjab Governor Malik Rafique Rajwana administered the oath. Caretaker Chief Minister Dr Hassan Askari Rizvi, Chief Secretary Zahid Saeed, IG retired Capt Arif Nawaz and representatives of Pakistan Air Force attended the ceremony.

Former federal secretary and Wapda chairman Zafar Mahmood has been given the portfolios of energy and local government and community development departments, while former Punjab Institute of Cardiology chief executive Dr Jawad Sajid Khan has been asked to supervise the primary and secondary healthcare department.

Punjab’s former IG Shaukat Javed will be spearheading the home department, industrialist Anjum Nisar will lead the industries, commerce and investment as well as mines and mineral departments; Zia Rizvi will supervise the finance and excise taxation and narcotics control departments and Ahmad Waqas Riaz is minister for information and culture.

Meanwhile, the caretaker chief minister is being criticised for completely overlooking women while selecting the cabinet members.

Critics have also expressed their dismay over keeping the education department sans ministers.

It may be mentioned that Mr Zia Rizvi, who has been given finance and taxation portfolio, has also served in the same capacity in the caretaker governments headed by Mian Afzal Hayat (1996-97) and of Najam Sethi (2013).

Congratulating the new ministers, Dr Rizvi said they had been chosen for being thorough professionals, apolitical and impartial. He said the caretaker government would make all out efforts to hold upcoming general elections in a free and fair manner.

Later, Dr Rizvi chaired the maiden cabinet meeting at chief minister secretariat on 8-Club Road. The chief secretary briefed the cabinet members about procedures, matters pertaining to the government affairs, working of the public sector departments and their infrastructure. The meeting was also apprised of the rules of business.

Speaking to the cabinet members and senior bureaucracy present in the meeting, the caretaker chief minister said the caretaker setup was meant for a limited period of time and its scope of work was limited too – holding free and fair elections within specific time.

Dr Rizvi said all facilities would be provided to ensure holding of free and fair elections under the instructions of the Election Commission of Pakistan.

He also directed the civil administration to fulfill its duties in a neutral manner. “It is a great time to do our job honestly in the best interest of the public and set an example worth following for the later caretaker governments,” he said.

He said that he would ensure that all ministers, administration as well as the police should stay completely impartial and apolitical.

Later, the caretaker chief minister also presided over a meeting to review matters pertaining to primary and secondary healthcare department, following a briefing by Health Secretary Ali Jan Khan.

Meanwhile, in a message on the World Day against Child Labour, the chief minister stressed the need for sensitising the public to the harsh impacts of child labour on the future of children.

Published in Dawn, June 12th, 2018