The PTI government on Thursday announced the appointment of retired Brig Ijaz Shah as Interior Minister — a portfolio earlier held by Prime Minister Imran Khan himself — amidst a major reshuffle of the federal cabinet.
Last month, Brig Shah was appointed as the federal minister for parliamentary affairs — a post that has now gone to Azam Swati in the reshuffle. Prior to his appointment as the minister for parliamentary affairs, reports were circulating that Prime Minister Khan was considering appointing Brig Shah as his national security adviser (NSA).
Brig Shah is currently a PTI member of the National Assembly from the constituency of NA-118, Nankana Sahib-II.
Shah is known to have experience of tackling the threat posed by militant organisations.
Brig Ijaz Shah's appointment to the key position of Interior Minister is likely to stir political controversy. Brig Shah remained a trusted aide of former president retired Gen Pervez Musharraf and served as director general of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) from 2004 to 2008. He was accused of using the IB for political victimisation.
Former prime minister and PPP chairperson Benazir Bhutto had named him in a letter as someone who should be investigated if she was assassinated. She suspected him to be conspiring to eliminate her.
PPP leader Palwasha Khan, talking to reporters earlier this month, said that Brig Shah was the one who worked for Gen Musharraf and “had links with Al Qaeda and Taliban”. Ms Bhutto, she recalled, had “nominated him as her possible assassin”.
As the home secretary of Punjab, Brig Shah was accused of midwifing the formation of the PML-Q and PPP-Patriots.
Omar Saeed Sheikh, who masterminded the kidnapping of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, had surrendered through Brig Shah.
Gen Musharraf had named Brig Shah as high commissioner to Australia, but Canberra refused to accept his nomination, forcing the government to withdraw it.