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April 1, 2008

24-member federal cabinet takes oath

April 1, 2008

ISLAMABAD: In a tense atmosphere President Pervez Musharraf on Monday administered oath to 24 members of the federal cabinet.

In an unprecedented move, the PML-N ministers took oath by wearing black armbands as a mark of protest against the president. They registered their protest yet again when they boycotted the tea party arranged at the Aiwan-e-Sadr for the guests.

However, in sharp contrast to the PML-N move, other members of the cabinet belonging to the PPP, JUI-F, ANP and Fata showed no sign of protest. Top sources say attempts to dissuade the PML-N ministers from protesting by wearing black armbands proved futile.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, however, was found comfortably seated with the president, who had to face some embarrassing moments twice within a few days. Earlier in the week, he was confronted with slogans of “Jeay Bhutto” and “Zinda Hai, BB Zinda Hai” at the swearing-in ceremony of the prime minister.

No leader from the PML-Q and the MQM attended the ceremony. Eleven federal ministers are from the Pakistan People’s Party of Asif Ali Zardari, nine from the PML-N of Nawaz Sharif, two from the Awami National Party (ANP) and one each from the JUI-F of Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Fata.

Though most of the ministers hail from the majority province Punjab, the coalition leaders found nothing strange in the arrangement, as all these ministers are leading members of their respective parties.

Seasoned campaigner and senior PML-N leader Ch Nisar Ali Khan, who has been named senior minister, will be in charge of communications with additional charge of Food, Agriculture and Livestock.

Following is the list of ministers with their portfolios:

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan Senior Minister, (Communications, additional charge: Food, Agriculture and Livestock), Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (Commerce), Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar (Defence), Rana Tanveer Hussain (Defence Production), Ahsan Iqbal (Education,

additional charge: Minorities), Hameedullah Jan Afridi (Environment), Muhammad Ishaq Dar (Finance, Revenue, Economic Affairs and Statistics), Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi (Foreign Affairs), Haji Rehmatullah Kakar (Housing and Works), Sherry Rehman (Information and Broadcasting), Qamar Zaman Kaira (Kashmir Affairs and Northern Areas), Syed Khursheed Ahmed Shah (Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis), Farooq H. Naik (Law and Justice), Haji Ghulam Ahmad Bilour (Local Government and Rural Development), Nazar Muhammad Gondal (Narcotics Control), Khawja Asif (Petroleum and Natural Resources, additional charge: Sport), Mir Hamayoon Aziz Kurd (Population Welfare), Syed Naveed Qamar (Ports and Shipping, additional charge: Privatization and Investment), Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan (Railways), Tehmina Daultana (Culture), Nawabzada Khawaja Muhammad Khan Hoti (Social Welfare and Special Education), Najmuddin Khan (States and Frontier Regions), Raja Pervaiz Ashraf (Water and Power) and Khawaja Saad Rafique (Youth Affairs, additional charge: Science and Technology). Rehman Malik will be Advisor on Interior.

The distribution of ministries and portfolios was finalised by a committee and finally approved by Asif Zardari, Nawaz Sharif, Asfandyar Wali and Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

The PPP got some important ministries such as Defence, Foreign Affairs, Information, Water and Power, Kashmir and Northern Areas, Narcotics, Port and Shipping, Labour, Manpower and Overseas Pakistanis.

However, Finance, Commerce, Communications, Petroleum, Defence Production, Food and Agriculture, Education and Youth Affairs, and Railways went to the PML-N. The ANP bagged Social Welfare and Special Education and Local Government, the JUI-F Housing and Works, while Fata’s Hameedullah Jan Afridi got Environment.

It is expected that the second batch of ministers would be inducted sooner rather than later, as the prime minister has announced an ambitious 100-day programme whose implementation requires a full-strength cabinet.

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