ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet is set to be expanded for the fourth time with the induction of six new ministers that will take its strength to 34, Dawn has learnt.
Sources in the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) said that President Dr Arif Alvi would administer the oath to the new ministers, including one minister of state, on Friday (today).
The persons expected to be inducted into the cabinet are Mohammadmian Soomro, Senator Azam Khan Swati, Faisal Vawda, Ali Amin Khan Gandapur, Sahibzada Mehboob Sultan and Zartaj Gul, according to the sources.
They said that Mr Soomro was expected to be given the portfolio of privatisation whereas Mr Swati was likely to take charge of the Ministry of Science and Technology. Similarly, Mr Gandapur might be allocated the portfolio of Kashmir Affairs and Zartaj Gul, an MNA from Dera Ghazi Khan, was expected to be appointed as minister of state for climate change.
They said the portfolios for Mr Vawda, an MNA from Karachi, and Mr Sultan from Jhang would be decided by the prime minister later.
After induction of the latest batch of ministers, the cabinet will comprise 24 federal ministers, six state ministers and four advisers. Besides them, there are four special assistants to the prime minister, who are generally not considered to be part of the federal cabinet.
Last month, the government had to postpone an oath-taking ceremony at the eleventh hour when former Senate chairman Mohammadmian Soomro, who had been elected as an MNA on a PTI ticket from Jacobabad in the general elections, declined the offer of becoming a state minister for privatisation. The PTI leadership immediately contacted Mr Soomro on the instructions of the prime minister and they finally managed to pacify him.
Before the induction of six new ministers there were a number of individuals in the federal cabinet who had either served in Gen Pervez Musharraf’s cabinet or had been associated with him in the past and this number would increase further after inclusion in the elite panel of Mr Soomro, who was the Senate chairman during the Musharraf regime.
Under Article 92 of the Constitution, “the total strength of the cabinet, including ministers of state, shall not exceed 11 per cent of the total membership of Majlis-i-Shoora (parliament)”.
As the total strength of the two houses of parliament is 446, the cabinet size cannot exceed 49, which means that after induction of the new ministers the size of the cabinet will reach 70 per cent of the allowed strength.
Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2018