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Pakistan

Web Desk
March 29, 2021

PM Imran Khan has decided to bring in a new team, says Shibli Faraz

Pakistan

Web Desk
Mon, Mar 29, 2021

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has decided to bring in a new team, Information and Broadcasting Minister Senator Shibli Faraz said Monday.

Geo News had earlier reported citing sources that the PTI-led federal government has decided to replace Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh with Industries Minister Hammad Azhar. PM Imran Khan reportedly conveyed to Shaikh to step down from his role, the sources had added.

The move came on the back of some resentment among government ministers on matters of taxation and bill granting autonomy to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), according to a Geo News report. 

In his remarks today, Faraz said the premier has formed a new finance team under Azhar's leadership.

"Abdul Hafeez Shaikh is no longer the finance minister," the federal minister said, adding that he did not know what Shaikh's future holds now.

Faraz said decisions were made keeping in view the realities of the country and that the PTI regime wished to give relief to the poor.

"When a new individual comes along, they come up with new ideas," he said, confirming that Azhar has been given the portfolio of finance ministry.

"Abdul Hafeez Shaikh's future is unknown," he added.

Shaikh's defeat in Senate

The reshuffle development came after the PPP's candidate in Senate elections, Yousaf Raza Gillani, defeated Shaikh for the Islamabad general seat, following which PM Imran Khan on March 6 directed Shaikh to carry on his duties as the federal minister for finance and revenue.

Sources had earlier informed Geo News that the prime minister had expressed full confidence in the finance minister's abilities. PM Imran had Khan said he recognised Shaikh's efforts to boost Pakistan's economy, they had added.

The sources added that Shaikh decided not to hand in his resignation following his meeting with the premier.

PTI's 'adviser and SAPMs' conundrum

Back in 2019, Shaikh had been appointed the premier's finance adviser in a cabinet reshuffle after Asad Umar tendered in his resignation as the finance minister.

However, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ruled in December 2020 that special assistants to the prime minister (SAPMs) and advisers had no authority to chair or participate in meetings of the Cabinet's committees.

Conferring the status of a federal minister on an adviser was "only for the purpose of perks and privileges" and "does not make the adviser a federal minister as such", the IHC had observed in its judgement. A few days later, Shaikh took oath as finance and revenue minister.

The PTI government was looking for the Senate polls' outcome to resolve the conundrum but Shaikh lost to Gilani in Islamabad. The former still had time until June — under the ordinance that allowed him to become finance minister — to continue his duties in that capacity.