ISLAMABAD - A conspicuously small 25-member contingent of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet swore in on Friday, probably as the first batch of the team that would eventually be calling the shots at different federal ministries and departments for next five years.

President Asif Ali Zardari administered the oath to 16 federal ministers and nine state ministers at a majestic ceremony held at the Aiwan-i-Sadr and the Cabinet Division later notified the portfolios of 12 federal ministers and all the 9 state ministers.

The oath taking was also attended by the prime minister, Senate Chairman Nayyer Hussain Bokhari, National Assembly Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, members of parliament, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Services Chiefs were in attendance.

The federal ministers who took oath were: Ch Nisar Ali Khan, Senator Ishaq Dar, Khwaja Saad Rafiq, Kh Asif, Abdul Qadir Baloch‚ Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Rana Tanveer, Zahid Hamid, Sen Pervez Rasheed, Sikandar Hayat Bosan, Kamran Michael, Pir Sadruddin Rashidi, Ahsan Iqbal, Barjees Tahir, Sardar Yousaf and Murtaza Jatoi. While Khurram Dastagir, Anusha Rehman, Usman Ibrahim‚ Jam Kamal‚ Abdul Hakeem Baloch‚ Mian Balighur Rehman‚ Saira Afzal Tarar, Pir Aminul Hasnat and Sheikh Aftab Ahmed took oath as ministers of state.

According to notification, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was given the portfolio of Interior and Anti-Narcotics; Ishaq Dar of Finance, Revenue and Finance Division; Khawaja Asif, Water and Power; Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Petroleum and Natural Resources; Pervez Rashid, Information and Broadcasting; Zahid Hamid, Law and Justice and Human Rights; Abdul Qadir Baloch, States and Frontier Regions (SAFRON); Saad Rafiq, Railways; Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi, Industries and Production; Birjees Tahir, Kashmir and Gilgit Affairs; Kamran Michael, Ports and Shipping; and Pir Sadaruddin, Overseas Pakistanis.

The portfolios of Ahsan Iqbal, Zahid Hamid, Sikandar Hayat Bosan and Sardar Yousaf were not notified. As for the ministers of state, Jam Kamal was appointed Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Resources; Anusha Rehman, Information Technology and Telecom, Abdul Hakeem Baloch, Railways; Saira Afzal Tarar, Health Sciences Regulation and Coordination; Baleeghur Rehman, Education; Khurram Dastagir, Science and Technology; Usman Ibraheem, Housing and Works; Sh Aftab Ahmed, Parliamentary Affairs; and Pir Aminul Hasnat, Religious Affairs.

The Cabinet Division has also notified the appointment of Sartaj Aziz as Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs and Captain (r) Shujaat Azeem as Advisor on Aviation. Moreover, Sanaullah Zehri and Tariq Fatmi have been appointed Special Assistants to the Prime Minister.

This third term of the PML-N led government is starting at time when the country is facing scores of internal and external challenges. The public expectations are high as the party has come to power on the back of promises to show an exemplary performance, solve all the major problems of the county and put it on the path of progress and prosperity.

Now this has to be seen how its prime gladiators prevail over the apparently insurmountable and bring home the bacon.