Khusro Bakhtiar removed as food security minister in yet another cabinet shake-up

Published April 6, 2020
Khusro Bakhtiar (L), Syed Fakhar Imam (C) and Hammad Azhar have been given new positions in yet another cabinet reshuffle. —
Khusro Bakhtiar (L), Syed Fakhar Imam (C) and Hammad Azhar have been given new positions in yet another cabinet reshuffle. —

In yet another major cabinet reshuffle, the premier on Monday replaced Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar with PTI leader Syed Fakhar Imam as Federal Minister for National Food Security.

Bakhtiar has instead been given the charge for the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Bakhtiar has replaced Hammad Azhar, who has been made the Federal Minister for Industries.

Cabinet changes:

  • Syed Fakhar Imam appointed as Federal Minister for National Food Security

  • Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar appointed as Minister for Economic Affairs

  • Hammad Azhar appointed as Federal Minister for Industries

  • MQM's Aminul Haq appointed as Federal Minister for Telecom

  • Azam Swati appointed as Federal Minister for Narcotics Control

Industries were being overseen by Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industry & Production and Investment. However, no update has been issued on whether Dawood's role has changed after Azhar's appointment.

The Ministry for National Food Security and Research saw another change, as its secretary Hashim Popalzai was replaced with Omar Hameed.

The prime minister also accepted MQM-P convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui's resignation as federal minister for information technology, which he had handed in January this year. MQM-P's Aminul Haq has been made Federal Minister for Telecom.

Azam Swati, who was previously the parliamentary affairs minister, has been made Federal Minister for Narcotics Control.

Babar Awan has been appointed as the adviser for parliamentary affairs.

The reshuffle comes two days after the Federal Investigation Agency team released reports on the sugar crisis and beneficiaries of subsidies obtained by the industry's bigwigs. The report on the sugar crisis named Bakhtiar, then the minister for national food security, as a beneficiary.

The report also named Jahangir Tareen, a PTI leader, as a beneficiary of the subsidy.

Tareen removed?

Around the same time as news of the cabinet reshuffle emerged, former Punjab government spokesperson Shahbaz Gill tweeted that Tareen has been removed as the chairperson of the task force on agriculture "in light of findings of sugar and wheat inquiry report".

Tareen tweeted soon after, saying that he was never appointed as the chairperson of the task force.

"I was never chairman of any task force. Can anyone show me a notification with me as C’man?? Pl get your facts right people," he wrote in a tweet.

Sugar and wheat crisis probe

On Saturday, two reports on the sugar and wheat crises in the country were made public, exposing ruling PTI’s bigwig Tareen, Bakhtiar, PML-Q's Monis Elahi and their relatives as being involved in the scam.

The reports were made public on the directives of the prime minister who, according to Special Assistant on Accountability Mirza Shahzad Akbar, had ordered stern action against those found involved in the crises “irrespective of their status and party affiliation”.

A source had told Dawn that the prime minister and members of the inquiry commission had been "threatened with dire consequences if the reports were made public". The sugar cartel had also threatened the committee that if the report was issued, the commodity would be vanished from the market.

Yesterday, terming the inquiry reports on sugar and wheat crises in the country “unprecedented”, Prime Minister Imran said he would wait for a detailed forensic report on the matter before taking action against anyone. He vowed that no powerful lobby would be able to gain undue profit and create an artificial shortage of essential items in the future.


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