AJK PM inducts 27 more members into cabinet

Published June 26, 2023
AZAD Kashmir President Barrister Sultan Mahmood administers the oath to the newly inducted ministers in Muzaffarabad, on Sunday.—Dawn
AZAD Kashmir President Barrister Sultan Mahmood administers the oath to the newly inducted ministers in Muzaffarabad, on Sunday.—Dawn

MUZAFFARABAD: Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Chaudhry Anwarul Haq on Sunday inducted 27 more members in his cabinet which comprised only two ministers since the installation of his government more than two months ago.

The formation of the huge cabinet, which would be followed by appointments of at least four advisers/special assistants with the status of minister, comes less than a week after his government passed a Rs232 billion budget with a staggering Rs42bn deficit.

The new ministers were administered oath by President Barrister Sultan Mahmood at the new PM House in the presence of PM Haq, Legislative Assembly Speaker Chaudhry Latif Akbar and a sizable number of political activists.

Mr Haq had appointed Waqar Ahmed Noor of PML-N and Raja Faisal Rathore of PPP as ministers without portfolio hours after assuming the office on April 20 at the head of a coalition government, comprising his strong group of PTI renegades and previously opposition PPP and PML-N parties.

However, since a constitutional provision, which was introduced by the PML-N government in June 2018 but came in effect after the installation of the new assembly in August 2021, restricted the size of the cabinet to 16 ministers, Mr Haq had put its expansion on hold until doing away with that barrier.

Those administered oath on Sunday were: Sardar Muhammad Hussain, Faheem Akhtar Rabbani, Sardar Mir Akbar, Deewan Ali Chughtai, Chaudhry Muhammad Rasheed, Chaudhry Azhar Sadiq, Chaudhry Arshad Hussain, Chaudhry Yasir Sultan, Nisar Ansar Abdali, Chaudhry Akhlaq, Zafar Iqbal Malik, Abdul Majid Khan, Chaudhry Akbar Ibrahim, Akmal Sargala, Javed Butt and Asim Sharif from the PTI renegades, Mian Abdul Waheed, Syed Bazil Ali Naqvi, Sardar Javed Ayub, Javed Iqbal Budhanvi, Chaudhry Amir Yasin, Chaudhry Qasim Majeed, Sardar Ziaul Qamar and Aamir Abdul Ghaffar Lone from the PPP, and Sardar Amir Altaf, Ahmad Raza Qadri from Raja Muhammad Siddique from the PML-N. Immediately, their portfolios were not announced.

Sources claimed that the PM would linger on the allotment for some weeks because the “needy outnumbered the remedy”.

“While most legislators in the PM’s group are aspiring for the previously held portfolios, coalition partners PPP and PML-N have also their own demands in this regard, due to which this tricky matter will take time,” the source said.

Following the cabinet expansion, three lawmakers each from PPP, PML-N and PTI renegades, including those elected against reserved seats, were left without any flag-wielding position.

Of them, the directly elected four — PML-N regional president Shah Ghulam Qadir and his predecessor and ex-PM Raja Farooq Haider and PPP president Chaudhry Yasin and senior PPP leader and ex-president Sardar Yaqoob Khan — were unlikely to accept any position in the government.

PTI defector Mazhar Saeed MLA has already been holding the office of chairman of PM’s Inspection and Implementation Commission. On Sunday, the prime minister increased perks and privileges of his office on a par with a minister with retrospective effect from March 2023.

Of the remaining five — all women — four were likely to be appointed as advisers and special assistants.

However, their notification was held in abeyance for the time being, reportedly after one of them declined to accept this position.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2023

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