Prime Minister Imran Khan has appointed his close aide Zulfiqar Hussain Bukhari, aka Zulfi Bukhari, as his special assistant on overseas Pakistanis and human resource development, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) announced.

He will have the status of a minister of state in his role as special assistant.

"The Prime Minister has been pleased to appoint, with effect from [Sept 14, 2018], Sayed Zulfiqar Abbas Bukhari as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development, with the status of minister of state," read a notification issued by the cabinet division.

Bukhari is a close aide to the prime minister and was in charge of the PTI chairman's campaign in NA-53 for the July 25 elections. A dual British-Pakistani national, his name was placed on the Exit Control List (ECL) by the interior ministry in August on a request of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

He is accused of owning off-shore companies in the British Virgin Islands and owning assets beyond his known source of income, sources in NAB had earlier told Dawn.

Bukhari had come into the limelight earlier this year when he was stopped by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) at Nur Khan Airbase while accompanying Khan to Saudi Arabia because his name was on the interior ministry's blacklist. However, the ministry allowed him to travel abroad minutes later.

Upon his return, Bukhari filed a petition before the Islamabad High Court seeking the removal of his name from the blacklist. The court accepted his petition and ordered removal of his name from the blacklist.

A week later, the court was informed by the interior ministry that Bukhari was placed on the blacklist as a precautionary measure in response to a request from NAB to include his name on the ECL, because the subcommittee tasked with approving the inclusion of names in the ECL was dysfunctional at the time the request was sent.

The IHC subsequently allowed the interior ministry to proceed with NAB's request to place Bukhari on the ECL.

The induction of Bukhari into the federal cabinet takes its strength to 29. Out of the total, eight cabinet members belong to coalition parties.

Under Article 92 of the Constitution, the total strength of the cabinet — including state ministers — could not exceed 11 per cent of the total members of parliament. The total membership of both the lower and upper houses is 446 and the cabinet size cannot exceed 49 members.

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