ISLAMABAD                  -                 Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday made important changes in the federal cabinet, just days after the federal inquiry report into the wheat and sugar crisis was made public.

Syed Fakhar Imam was appointed as Minister for National Food Security while Khusro Bakhtiar will be Minister for Economic Affairs. Hammad Azhar was given the portfolio of Minister of Industries while Azam Swati of Narcotics Control.

Similarly, the resignation of Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui was accepted and Amin ul Haq was appointed Federal Minister for Telecom. Dr Babar Awan was appointed as Advisor for Parliamentary Affairs. Also, Shahzad Arbab was removed from the position of advisor and Umar Hameed appointed Secretary of National Food Security in place of Hashim Popalzai.  

The move apparently came after Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Federal Minister for National Food Security resigned from his ministerial position for the reason that his name appeared in the inquiry report on sugar crises as one of the  beneficiaries.

He has now been made Minister for Economic Affairs and replaced by Syed Fakhar Imam as Federal Minister for National Food Security. Bakhtiar replaced Hammad Azhar, who is now Federal Minister for Industries.

The Prime Minister also removed Advisor for Commerce, Industry and Investment Abdul Razzak Dawood from his portfolio and as Chairman of Sugar Advisory Board.

In addition, Azam Swati was appointed as Federal Minister for Narcotics Control. Swati had resigned as Federal Minister for Science and Technology back in 2018. Babar Awan has been deputed as Advisor for Parliamentary Affairs.

Similarly, Mohammad Shahzad Arbab was removed as Advisor while the PM accepted the resignation of Khalid Maqbool Siddiqi as Federal Minister of Information Technology. Besides, MQM-Pakistan’s Amin ul Haq has been made Federal Minister for Telecom.

Prime Minister is understood to have made changes in the cabinet after the findings of an inquiry report by Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in wheat and sugar scandal were made public two days ago. The report had named Khusro Bakhtiar as beneficiary in the scam while he was serving as the head of National Food Security Ministry.

The Prime Minister had constituted two high-powered committees under Director General Federal Investigation Agency and comprising a senior officer of Intelligence Bureau and DG Anti Corruption Establishment Punjab to investigate the causes behind the crises and price hike of the said commodities.

After the formation of the said committees, the prime minister had repeatedly resolved to expose and penalize those found responsible for the sugar and wheat crises to avoid the recurrence of such acts.

On submission of inquiry reports from both the committees, certain additional questions were also referred to the bodies seeking further clarifications. The committees had furnished separate main and supplementary reports to address the further queries raised by the Prime Minister House.

The report held some ministers and members belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf responsible for creating artificial crisis and hike in prices of wheat and flour.

The committee on wheat crisis comprised DG FIA Wajid Zia, Deputy DG IB Mubarak Zeb and DG Anti Corruption Punjab Muhammad Gohar Nafees. The committee on the subject of sugar consisted of DG FIA Wajid Zia, Deputy DG IB Ahmad Kamal and DG Anti Corruption Establishment Punjab Muhammad Goher Nafees. The final report of forensic audit will be submitted to the Prime Minister on April 25 and the Prime Minister has also promised to take punitive actions against involved in profiteering at the public expense.

Well placed sources told to The Nation that Prime Minister had to take tough decision after reported threats of serious consequences for the PTI-led ruling alliance if government made public the inquiry reports.

In a related development, it was also reliably learnt that government is moving fast to look into Jahangir Khan Tareen’s business empire especially the land lease he had secured in Khyber Pakhtukhawa for his precious marble stone business.

Sources say that startling disclosures are likely in near future and there could be more powerful people in the PTI government who might eventually also lose their jobs. It was further learnt that the Prime Minister is also considering the option of government taking over sugar mills of those who reportedly threatening him of serious consequences if he made public the inquiry reports.