ISLAMABAD - Living up to his commitment of having a small team of official aides, Prime Minister Imran Khan Saturday appointed 21-member federal cabinet with 16 federal ministers and five advisers.
Still over a dozen portfolios – including some key ones like Interior, Water and Power, and Planning and Development – have been left vacant and it is expected that in next phase the cabinet would be expanded.
However, in the first phase, Prime Minister Khan has accommodated all the coalition partners in the cabinet – all of them have been given ministerial slots.
Insiders in the government informed that some of the coalition partners however were not given the portfolios of their choice while some were even unhappy with their ministerial assignments.
Though Khan had declared that he won’t be blackmailed and would deal things on merit but he could succumb to the pressure from coalition partners in future, sources said. The thin majority of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf means it would have to continuously rely on the coalition partners, they added.
The key coalition partner of the ruling PTI is Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan which has seven members in the National Assembly and has been given two ministries.
Awami Muslim League, Balochistan Awami Party and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) each have one seat in the NA and they have been given one ministerial berth each.
Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, the driving force behind Janoobi Suba Mahaz, who later contested the elections as independent candidate, also made his way to the federal cabinet.
Details of cabinet
PTI vice president Shah Mehmood Qureshi has been made Minister for Foreign Affairs. He is said to have been desirous of getting the Punjab chief minister slot, but he could not win any provincial seat.
Another party stalwart, Asad Umer has been given the portfolio of Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs – as expected.
Pervez Khattak, the former Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister and a close aide of PM Khan, has been made defence minister.
PTI spokesperson Fawad Ahmad Chaudhry, who have been very outspoken in defending his party, has been awarded Information and Broadcasting ministry.
Shireen Mazari, who was earlier tipped as defence minister, ended up getting Human Rights ministry.
Shafqat Mehmood, a former bureaucrat and renowned columnist, has been given the portfolio of Federal Education and Professional Training.
As for others, Makhdum Khusro Bakhtiar has been made minister for Water Resources, Ghulam Sarwar Khan for Petroleum, Aamir Mehmood Kiyani for National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination, while Noor ul Haq Qadri has been given Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony portfolio.
MQM-P Rabita Committee Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui has been made Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication.
Senator Dr Farogh Naseem of MQM-P has been given Law and Justice portfolio. He is one of the leading lawyers of the country and is an expert of constitutional and politico-legal framework of the state.
Chief of his MLA Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has been made Railways minister, though it is said he was desirous of getting information ministry.
PML-Q leader Tariq Bashir Cheema will be the minister of States and Frontier Regions in Khan’s cabinet.
Former PPP leader and National Assembly Speaker Fehmida Mirza, who contested this election on GDA platform, has been made Minister for Inter Provincial Coordination.
BAP leader Zubaida Jalal, the only woman candidate who won election from Balochistan in 2018, has been given the portfolio of Defence Production. In the past, she brilliantly served as federal education minister in Shaukat Aziz cabinet.
The advisers are Mohammad Shehzad Arbab (Establishment), Abdul Razak Dawood (Commerce, Textile, Industry and Production and Investment), Israt Hussain (Institutional Reforms and Austerity), Amin Aslam (Climate Change) and Zaheer-ud-Din Babar Awan (Parliamentary Affairs).
The portfolios that have been left vacant include Interior, Power, Planning and Development, Communications, Housing and Works, Kashmir Affairs, Overseas Pakistanis Affairs, Ports and Shipping, Postal, Science and Technology, and Narcotics Control.
After the passage of 18th Constitutional Amendment now the federal cabinet size could not exceed 11 per cent of the strength of Parliament and PTI government have a space to double the number of the existing cabinet.
Most precisely the government could expand the cabinet up to 49 or 50 whereas right now they have just inducted 21 ministers and five advisers.
But as Prime Minister Imran Khan has time and again said that he would keep the cabinet size small so the government is unlikely to go far a big cabinet, it would probably try to confine it to a maximum of 30 members.