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PM Imran reshuffles cabinet less than one year into government

Updated April 18, 2019

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The Prime Minister's Office announced a major reshuffle of the federal cabinet on Thursday. — Ramsha Jahangir
The Prime Minister's Office announced a major reshuffle of the federal cabinet on Thursday. — Ramsha Jahangir

The Prime Minister's Office announced a major reshuffle of the federal cabinet on Thursday, with key portfolios of the finance, interior and information ministries seeing new faces.

This development came only hours after Asad Umar stepped down as the finance minister.


Key updates

  • Cabinet reshuffled after criticism mounts on economic, security policies
  • Asad Umar removed from the finance ministry
  • Fawad Chaudhry now Minister for Science and Technology
  • Ijaz Ahmed Shah appointed federal interior minister; Afridi removed as interior state minister

The portfolio of information minister has been taken away from Fawad Chaudhry, who has been named as the federal minister for science and technology.

Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh has been named the adviser on finance.

Minister of state for interior Shehryar Afridi has now been named the Minister for States and Frontier Regions (Safron).

The PTI government has also announced a federal interior minister for the first time, with the portfolio — earlier held by the PM himself — going to retired Brig Ijaz Ahmed Shah, who was appointed the federal minister for parliamentary affairs just last month.

Profile: Ijaz Shah — Imran Khan's new Interior Minister

Ghulam Sarwar Khan, who previously was the petroleum minister, has now been named the federal minister for aviation. Sarwar, according to informed sources, had threatened to quit the party if removed from the cabinet. He was, therefore, given the Aviation Division portfolio which was until then held by Federal Minister for Privatisation Muhammad Mian Soomro.

Azam Swati, who had resigned as the federal minister for science and technology last year, has been appointed as the federal minister for parliamentary affairs.

His resignation had come after he was accused of using his influence in the transfer of a former capital police chief in the wake of his family's altercation with a family of slum dwellers.

The prime minister, according to a notification issued by the Cabinet Division, has also appointed a trio of Special Assistants to the Prime Minister (SAPM).

The notification states that Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan has been made the SAPM on Information and Broadcasting Division, while Dr Zafarullah Mirza has been assigned the portfolio of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination.

Meanwhile, Nadeem Babar will serve as the SAPM on Petroleum Division.

The reshuffle comes as criticism mounts against the PTI government over its economic policies as well as in the aftermath of major terrorist attacks in Balochistan.

Who is Abdul Hafeez Shaikh?

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh is an internationally renowned economist with more than 30 years of experience in economic policymaking, management and implementation.

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh. — File
Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh. — File

Dr Shaikh has undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in economics from Boston University. He had worked at Harvard University and World Bank, where he was country head for Saudi Arabia and as a Senior Official advised 21 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America.

He served as the finance minister from 2010 to 2013 during the PPP government's rule.

During his tenure as federal minister, Dr Shaikh completed 34 sale transactions worth Rs300 billion in banking, telecom, electricity and manufacturing.

In 2000-2002, he was minister of finance, planning and development of Sindh.

He was then appointed as the minister for privatisation and investment in the Pervez Musharraf administration.

Who is Firdous Ashiq Awan?

Firdous Ashiq Awan was a PPP stalwart before she joined the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in May 2017.

Awan, along with her husband, was a staunch supporter of the PPP until party co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari consolidated his control over the party.

Firdous Ashiq Awan. — File
Firdous Ashiq Awan. — File

She began her political career in 1990 with a focus on improving the healthcare system, and founded the Society for Health and Development and Exchange.

In 2002, she was elected to NA-286 on a reserved seat for women. In 2008, she successfully contested the NA-111 poll and was appointed the federal minister for population welfare. She later served as the information minister in the PPP government.

In 2013, she again contested the NA-111 poll but this time was unsuccessful. In 2015, she resigned as the PPP Punjab vice president before joining the PTI two years later.

Who is Nadeem Babar?

Babar, a former chief executive of Orient Power and Saba Power Company, had been operating in the power sector since the induction of private power producers under the 1994 power policy.

In September 2018, upon the prime minister's desire, he was appointed the head of an eight-member task force on energy sector reforms.

Who is Dr Zafarullah Mirza?

Dr Zafarullah Mirza is a former director of the World Health Organisation's (WHO) Division of Health System Development.

He joined the WHO in 2004 and served in different capacities during his more than a decade-long association with the UN special agency.

Dr Mirza holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery from Rawalpindi Medical College, as well as a Master’s of Science degree in Public Health in Developing Countries from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.