By Muhammad Luqman
In a major reshuffling in Pakistan’s federal cabinet, Prime Minister Imran Khan reallocatted various portfolios to the ministers , just hours after Finance Minister Asad Umar announced to step down from the office on Thursday.
According to the notification issued by the cabinet division late Thursday night,Choudhry Fawad Hussain, who was Federal Minister for Information & Broadcasting has now been made Federal Minister for Science and Technology. Chaudhary had been under criticism due to being at the centre of various controversies during just nine months of the present government.
Ghulam Sarwar Khan, who was Federal Minister for Petroleum will now be Federal Minister for Aviation.
Ijaz Ahmed Shah, who was Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs has now been made Federal Minister for Interior. Shah is the former head of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, Intelligence Bureau (IB).
Shehryar Afridi, who was Minister of State for Interior is now Minister for States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON).
Mohammad Mian Soomro, Federal Minister for Privatisation has been stripped of additional portfolio of Aviation Division.
The Cabinet Division has issued another notification, which says that the prime minister has appointed the following Special Assistants to the Prime Minister, with immediate effect:
Dr Zafarullah Mirza for National Health Services, Regulation & Coordination.
Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan for Information & Broadcasting
Nadeem Babar for Petroleum.
Besides, Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh has been appointed Advisor on Finance while Azam Swati has been made Minister for Parliamentary Affairs.
The process of the reshuffling of the cabinet began after Finance Minister Asad Umar decided to quit the Federal Cabinet instead of taking the energy ministry as desired by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
“As part of a cabinet reshuffle PM desired that I take the energy minister portfolio instead of finance. However, I have obtained his consent to not take any cabinet position. I strongly believe @ImranKhanPTI is the best hope for Pakistan and inshallah will make a naya pakistan,” Asad Umar tweeted on Thursday afternoon.
According to analysts, the cabinet reshuffle comes as the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government faces great criticism over a struggling economy and sharp stagflation, with the rupee having lost 30 percent of its value since the start of 2018.
Umar was negotiating a bailout package with the International Monetary Fund when he stepped down, with state minister for revenue Hammad Azhar claiming an agreement “in principle” had been reached during a trip to Washington, D.C.