President Mamnoon Hussain administered the oath to 27 federal ministers and 16 state ministers (total 43) of recently elected Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s cabinet. The ceremony took place at President’s house in Islamabad.
Some of the distinctive features of his cabinet are:
This cabinet comprises of old faces with reshuffled ministries. Like Ahsan Iqbalpreviously minister for planning has been now assigned interior ministry. Also, Khurram Dastagir Khan who was the Minister of Commerce in Nawaz’s cabinet will now be Minister of Defence.
Mostly Nawaz’s Sharif’s loyalists have occupied important portfolios. Ishaq Dar, close confidante and his relative (Nawaz’s daughter Asma’s father-in-law) retained his position as Finance Minister inspite of charges of corruption against him.
Another important feature of the new cabinet is the appointment of Foreign Minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif (defence minister in Nawaz’s cabinet). This is an important step because since 2013 after PML-N coming to power, Pakistan had no foreign minister. The ministry was often handled by Sartaj Aziz, a close advisor of Nawaz Sharif.
The cabinet also included Mushahidullah Khan as a minister of climate change who was expelled by Nawaz Sharif in 2016 for his controversial statement against ISI.
Khuram Dastgir, young law maker who was the commerce minister is appointed as the defence minister. By appointing Dastgir, PM gives clear signs of no confrontation with the military as 2018 elections are approaching.
The size of the cabinet is almost twice the previous one which had 25 ministers.
Another striking feature is the inclusion of a Hindu minister after almost two decades. Darshan Lal has been appointed as minister of state for inter-provincial coordination. His inclusion shows the commitment of the government towards the minorities who play a key role in the elections.
The cabinet ministers were decided by Abbasi in consultation with Nawaz Sharif and his brother Shahbaz. However, future of leadership is not very clear at the moment. Inspite of declaration made by Nawaz about Shahbaz being his heir, there are speculations that Abbasi might continue till next elections.