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Agencies
February 17, 2012

Reshuffle in cabinet likely after Senate elections

National

A
Agencies
February 17, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The federal cabinet will undergo a major reshuffle and expansion next month immediate following the first session of the Senate with the newly inducted members of the house. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who has done extremely well this past year, in her incumbent portfolio could become Finance Minister for the last year of the present government to set up a ìpoor-man’s budgetî since she has vast experience in dealing with economic and finance related issue-areas. Mushahid Hussain has been tipped as new Foreign Minister, an office he has long been dreaming of. Barrister Aitazaz Ahsan may take over as law and justice minister relieving Maula Bux Chandio, but sources say he has his eye on the ministries of defence and/or interior. Mian Raza Rabbani, meanwhile, could be considered for law and justice if Aitazaz Ahsan gets some other portfolio.
Brainstorming at the highest echelon is underway, and it has been suggested that at least three heavyweight members of the cabinet will see changes in their portfolio or they may be shown the door, including a woman minister who was suddenly assigned a high profile ministry last year. A dozen new faces are likely to be inducted in the federal cabinet, including four women ministers who are currently acting as Parliamentary Secretary in the National Assembly. The March elections for 54 seats of the Senate will eliminate Jamat-e-Islami from the Parliament, while senior-most senator, Barrister Wasim Sajjad, will be out of the upper house of the Parliament for the first time in 18 years. His three colleagues in Senate since 1994 namely Barrister Aitazaz Ahsan, Mian Raza Rabbani and Ilyas Bilour will be staying in the house till 2018.
Well-placed parliamentary sources told The News that the expanded federal cabinet would carry the government into next polls, and for this reason changes would be brought about after careful consideration. The ruling alliance could be converted into an election alliance with

the exception of one party for the reason the ruling partner’s opinion will get due importance in the process of reshuffling. Azam Khan Hoti of the Awami National Party (ANP) who is father of Chief Minister KP Amir Hayed Khan Hoti is interested in the portfolio of communication and could force Dr Arbab Alamgir Khan to switch to some other assignment. Azam Hoti is being elected as Senator from his province. He is also the maternal uncle of ANP President Asfandyar Wali Khan.
Sources pointed out that three senior Senators who has also been members of the 1994 Senate were leaving the Parliament for good: they were Dr. Safdar Abbasi, Prof Khurshid Ahmad and Barrister Wasim Sajjad. With this Ilyas Bilour and Mian Raza Rabbani will become the senior-most members of the upper house, with their respective membership lasting till 2018. Among those exiting from the Senate would be deputy chairman Jan Muhammad Khan Jamali, who has also served as chief minister Balochistan, Senator S M Zafar who was Foreign Minister and Law Minister in united Pakistan before 1971, Lieutenant General (Retired) Javaid Ashraf Qazi who was DG ISI in Benazir Bhutto’s government, Muhammad Ali Durrani former Information Minister of Pervez Musharraf, Salim Saifullah Khan who is heading his own faction of Pakistan Muslim League (PML-HK) and has also served as Chief Minister KP, Tariq Azeem Khan former Information and Broadcasting Minister under Musharraf, and Shahid Hasan Bugti leader of the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) and son-in-law of late Nawab Akbar Bugti.
Jamat-e-Islami’s three members namely Prof Khurshid Ahmad, Prof Muhammad Ibrahim Khan and Ms Afia Aziz are relinquishing the upper house and this will result in the elimination of the Jamat from the Parliament entirely.
Sources pointed out that forty-two members of the present house are bound to call it a day in 25 daysí time while eight members will retain their berth in the upper house of the Parliament. Advisor to the Prime Minister for Finance Abdul Hafiz Shaikh is currently suspended from the house but he is still retaining his seat. Interestingly he will attend the house today (Friday) by virtue of his office as advisor but will not be allowed to exercise his vote for the adoption of 20th amendment of the constitution for which the session has been summoned. Furthermore the passage of the amendment will pave the way for the restoration of his membership. The other two members of the Senate facing suspension are Dr Asim Hussain and Syed Sajid Hussain Zaidi of the PML-F who was elected 18 months ago. Senator Zaidi had the shortest tenure as member of the outgoing part of the house.
The eight members of the upper house Abdul Hafiz Shaikh (PPP), Col (Retired) Tahir Hussain Mashhadi (MQM), Ilyas Ahmad Bilour (ANP), Mian Raza Rabbani (PPP), Mir Isarullah Zehri (BNP-A), Ishaq Dar (PML-N), Talha Mahmood (MMA) and Babar Awan (PPP, if his nomination acceptance is not challenged again) are due to return to the house following the expiry of their membership on March 12.
Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani will host a dinner in the honour of the outgoing members of the Senate following its final sitting next month. The newly elected other members will also be invited, sources reveal.

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