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Caretaker prime minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso. — Photo by AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: While caretaker Prime Minister Retired Justice Mir Hazar Khan Khoso allocated portfolios to members of his cabinet, he kept finance, foreign affairs and defence amid reports that he is still looking for suitable people for the key slots.

Adding credibility to the reports, knowledgeable sources said here on Wednesday that former ambassador to the US Maleeha Lodhi is being tipped as foreign minister and that she may land in the capital in a few days accompanied by someone to head the Ministry of Finance.

Sohail Wajahat H. Siddique, who took oath as a minister on Tuesday, was not assigned any portfolio. According to sources in the prime minister’s secretariat, Mr Siddique had been asked to first resign as Chairman of the Pakistan State Oil and then get a portfolio.

Mr Siddique is considered to be close to former petroleum minister Dr Asim Hussain. A government official said Mr Siddique was being considered for the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, but “since his selection has become controversial he may not get that ministry”.

Earlier Dr Mushtaq Khan, who is State Bank of Pakistan’s Chief Economist, was stopped from taking oath as minister at the eleventh hour for being a government employee. Prime Minister Justice Khoso also kept the portfolio of petroleum and natural resources to himself.

Malik Habib, a former inspector general police, Balochistan, has been given the ministry of interior and narcotics control. He has also worked as head of the National Police Foundation and has the reputation of a professional.

Ahmer Bilal Soofi has been given the ministries of law and justice, parliamentary affairs and human rights. He is a prominent lawyer and an expert on international law. He also runs a non-governmental organisation.

Dr Musaddaq Malik, who has been given the charge of water and power, is a businessman. He is said to be a friend of Ali Arshad Hakeem, Chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue.

Renowned journalist Arif Nizami has been given the portfolio of information, with additional charge of postal services.

Maqbool H. Rahmatoola will head the ministries of commerce and textiles. He belongs to a business family of Karachi.

Mr Abdul Kasi is the new minister for railways. He was minister for health in the caretaker cabinet set up during the Musharraf regime.

Dr Younis Soomro, the minister for housing and works, is grandson of Allah Bakhsh Soomro, who served as the chief minister of Sindh from 1939 to 1942. Dr Soomro is reported to have treated President Zardari for some time.

Dr Sania Nishtar, the minister for science and technology, IT, professional training and education, is the wife of Ghalib Nishtar, a former president of the Khushhali Bank, and a granddaughter of veteran politician and a leader of Pakistan movement Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar. She runs an NGO called Heartfile.

Shahzada Jamal, the minister for religious affairs, national harmony, regulation and heritage, is son of Pir of Mohra Sharif of Murree. His family is known to have been closely associated with Benazir Bhutto.

Shahzada Ahsan Ashraf Sheikh, the minister for industries and production, is a relative of Ahmad Riaz Sheikh, a close friend of President Zardari.

Asad Ullah Mandokhel has been given the charge of ports and shipping and communications.

Mir Hassan Domki is the new minister for food security.

Feroze Jamal Shah Kakakhel has been given the charge of the Overseas Pakistanis Foundation.