ISLAMABAD: Newly elected PM Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday continued consultations within in his own party over the federal cabinet, which is likely to be constituted in a couple of days.

A source in the PM Office told Dawn the prime minister held a marathon meeting on Sunday, which continued late into the night, to finalise the names of his new ministers.

“The oath-taking of the cabinet can take place today (Monday) or tomorrow (Tuesday). The first meeting of the cabinet will also be held on the same day,” a senior PM Office official told Dawn on condition of anonymity.

While the PML-N’s main ally, the PPP, has refused to become part of the federal cabinet, the fate of MQM-P, i.e. how many ministries it will get, is still uncertain.

Reports indicate that Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party President Aleem Khan and PML-Q leader Chaudhry Salik could also join the cabinet in the first phase.

The grapevine is rife with speculation about who will get what portfolio. Sources say that Khawaja Asif will retain the portfolio of defence, Musaddiq Malik will get petroleum, Ahsan Iqbal will hold onto the planning and development ministry while Azam Nazeer Tarar will be the law minister again.

Atta Tarar is tipped to be the new information minister, while Shaza Fatima Khwaja is being named as minister for IT.

However, it is unclear who will lead the finance team, as both Ishaq Dar and HBL chief Muhammad Aurangzeb have been participating in recent meetings on the economic situation.

Former caretaker chief minister of Punjab and current Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman Mohsin Naqvi is also in the run for interior minister, and has admitted that he would be a candidate for the upcoming Senate elections.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2024

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