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Imran takes oath as PM, picks 21-strong cabinet

August 19, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan being administered the oath of prime minister by President Mamnoon Hussain at Awain-i-Sadr on Saturday. Caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk is also seen.
—White Star
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan being administered the oath of prime minister by President Mamnoon Hussain at Awain-i-Sadr on Saturday. Caretaker Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk is also seen. —White Star

ISLAMABAD: An upbeat Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on Saturday formally assumed the office of the country’s chief executive following an impressive oath-taking ceremony at President House which was attended by a number of dignitaries, including senior PTI members, parliamentarians, services chiefs, diplomats and celebrities.

Clad in a traditional black sherwani, a visibly blushing Imran Khan later reviewed the guard of honour accorded to him at the Prime Minister’s House.

Stars of the ceremony in which President Mamnoon Hussain administered the oath to Mr Khan were Indian cricketer-turned-politician Navjot Singh Sidhu and the first lady Bushra Bibi, who was seen sitting in the front row wearing a white abaya (veil) carrying a rosary in her hand. It was her first appearance at a gathering after her marriage with the PTI chief earlier this year.

The first lady received greetings from some of the guests after her arrival at President House, but later she was seen reciting something with her eyes closed.

Mr Khan faced some difficulty in reading out his oath because of some difficult Urdu words and at one stage smilingly said “sorry” when he uttered the word Qayadat (leadership) instead of Qayamat (the day of judgement). And before start of the oath, Mr Khan made everyone curious — as well as amused — when he began to look for his spectacles in a pocket of the shirt that he was wearing under his sherwani.

Three women among 16 ministers, five advisers; opposition stays away from swearing-in ceremony

No one from the opposition parties attended the ceremony despite the fact that invitations had been extended to a number of party leaders and heads, including PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif and PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.

Prominent among those who attended the oath-taking ceremony were caretaker prime minister Nasirul Mulk, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, former PTI secretary general Jahangir Tareen, Punjab Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, Jamhoori Watan Party chief Shahzain Bugti, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, Air Chief Marshal Mujahid Anwar Khan, Navy Chief Admiral Zafar Mahmood Abbasi, actor Javed Sheikh, singers Salman Ahmed and Abrar-ul-Haq and ex-cricketers Wasim Akram, Rameez Raja, Inzamamul Haq, Javed Miandad and Waqar Younus.

According to a tweet by PTI’s official account, the ceremony’s menu of nine dishes was reduced to refreshments only on Mr Khan’s request as part of his “austerity drive”.

Talking to Dawn, PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said PM Khan would address the nation on Sunday (today) in which he would present the future roadmap of his government as well as thank people for reposing confidence in the PTI. Responding to a question, he said Mr Khan was residing in a house at the PM’s Staff Colony.

Later, the PM Office announced the names of 21 cabinet members including many old faces. A number of them had either served in the cabinet during the military rule of Gen Pervez Musharraf or had had association with him in the past.

Of the 16 ministers, seven belong to the coalition parties whose support Mr Khan had secured to win the prime minister’s election with 176 votes. The new cabinet members — 16 federal ministers and five advisers — are expected to take the oath at President House on Monday.

According to the official announcement made by the PM Office, PTI’s vice chairman Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi has been nominated as the country’s new foreign minister, a position where he had previously served during the last PPP government between 2008-13 under the then president Asif Zardari and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani. Mr Qureshi had resigned from the cabinet after developing differences with the party leadership during a reshuffle in the cabinet.

Mr Qureshi had also once served as provincial finance minister in the cabinet of Nawaz Sharif when he was the chief minister of the Punjab during the military rule of Gen Ziaul Haq.

With no surprise, Asad Umar has been made minister for finance and revenue whereas the portfolio of the information and broadcasting has been allocated to PTI’s information secretary Fawad Chaudhry. Mr Chaudhry had also previously served as spokesman for Gen Musharraf’s All-Pakistan Muslim League (APML) and remained part of the media team of PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari before joining the PTI.

Ghulam Sarwar Khan, who defeated PML-N’s estranged leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in the July 25 elections in two constituencies, has been allocated the portfolio of petroleum ministry. Mr Nisar had also served as petroleum minister in the first two governments of Nawaz Sharif.

Dr Shireen Mazari has been given the portfolio of human rights, whereas former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister Pervez Khattak will be the country’s new defence minister.

Former PTI information secretary Shafqat Mehmood has been given the portfolio of federal education and professional training with the additional charge of national history and literary heritage division. Having Masters’ degree from Harvard University, Mr Mehmood had served as senator in the 1990s. He also served as Punjab information minister in the PML-N government in 1999.

Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiyar, who had previously served as minister of state for foreign affairs during the military regime of Gen Musharraf, has been made the minister for water resources.

Mr Khan appointed PTI MNA from Rawalpindi Aamir Mehmood Kiyani as minister for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination.

Among those who have been given representation in the federal cabinet for being leaders of the PTI’s allies are Senator Farogh Naseem of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (law and justice); Chaudhry Tariq Bashir Cheema of the PML-Q (states and frontier regions); Zubaida Jalal of the Balochistan Awami Party (defence production); Awami Muslim League chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed (railways); Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui of the MQM-P (information technology and telecommunication); Dr Fehmida Mirza of the Grand Democratic Alliance (inter-provincial coordination) and an independent MNA from Fata Noorul Haq Qadri (religious affairs and interfaith harmony).

Senator Naseem, who had served as the youngest advocate general of Sindh, also represented former military ruler Gen Musharraf in a court hearing the high treason case under Article 6 of the Constitution.

Zubaida Jalal, too, was an active member of the cabinet as education minister during the regime of Gen Musharraf.

AML chief Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has managed to get back the portfolio of railways, the position he had previously enjoyed during the rule of Gen Musharraf. Previously, he had served as a cabinet member under former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Dr Fehmida Mirza, who had enjoyed the honour of the first woman speaker of the National Assembly during the PPP government from 2008 to 2013, contested the July 25 elections from the platform of the GDA after her spouse Dr Zulfiqar Mirza had developed differences with the government.

Advisers

Those who have been appointed as advisers to the prime minister are former law minister in the PPP government Babar Awan (parliamentary affairs); former KP chief secretary Shehzad Arbab (establishment division); former minister in the regime of Gen Musharraf Abdul Razzak Dawood (commerce, textile, industry & production and investment); Dr Ishrat Husain (institutional reforms and austerity) who had served as State Bank governor during the military rule of Gen Musharraf and another former minister of state in the Gen Musharraf regime Amin Aslam (climate change).

Published in Dawn, August 19th, 2018