ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari on Friday swore 22 ministers into office in the first phase of a government reshuffle designed to reduce the size of the cabinet and curb public spending.
A reduction in the size of the cabinet was required under the 18th amendment to the constitution, which stipulates it should be no larger than 11 per cent of parliament, which would be a maximum of 49 members.
Most of the 22 who the president swore in are the members of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
The new cabinet included 18 old and four new ministers. It also included one minister of state, Hina Rabbani Khar.
The ministers who took oath were Mian Manzoor Ahmed Wattoo (Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan Affairs), Samina Khalid Ghurki (Environment), Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar (Defence), Babar Awan (Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs), Firdos Ashiq Awan (Information and Broadcasting), Makhdoom Shahabuddin (Textile), Raza Rabbani (Inter Provincial Coordination), Rehman Malik (Interior), Abdul Hafeez Shaikh (Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs), Syed Khursheed Shah ( Religious Affairs), Naveed Qamar (Privatization), Makhdoom Amin Fahim (Commerce), Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani (Industries and Production), Haji Khuda Bux Rajar (Narcotics Control), Arbab Alamgir Khan (Communication), Haji Ghulam Ahmed Bilour (Railways), Shaukat Ullah (States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON)), Mir Changez Khan Jamali (Science and Technology), Sardar Al-Haaj Mohammad Umar Gorage (Postal Services), Mir Israrullah Zehri ( Food and Agriculture), Shahbaz Bhatti (Minorities), Hina Rabbani Khar (Minister of State for Foreign Affairs).
The charge of the following ministries would remain with the prime minister: Water and Power, Human Rights, Information Technology and Telecommunication, Defence Production, Petroleum and Natural Resources, Overseas Pakistanis, Ports and Shipping, Housing and Works.
Prominent members of the previous federal cabinet who had not been included in the cabinet are Qamar Zaman Kaira, Raja Pervez Ahsraf and Nazar Mohammad Gondal.
Government officials said more cabinet ministers would be sworn into office at a later date, including members of other parties in the fractious coalition.
Each minister swore to undertake their duties “honestly” and “faithfully in accordance with the constitution” and “always in the interest of the sovereignty, integrity, solidarity, well-being and prosperity of Pakistan”.
The government was under huge domestic pressure to implement a raft of reforms, in order to head off any possible threat of a call for early elections from opposition leader and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.