The cabinet under the new Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was sworn in on August 4, 2017. The President of Pakistan, Mr. Mamnoon Hussain administered oath to 27 Federal Ministers and 16 Ministers of State at an oath-taking ceremony held at the President House. Former Defense Minister, Khawaja Asif was allotted the portfolio of Foreign Minister in the newly formed cabinet of PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. Is it an appropriate selection? The question “who made this selection?” is not that important because it is known to all and sundry that none other than the former Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, is still calling the shots and hence, must have made the selection. 

Former Defense Minister Khawaja Asif may be a competent person otherwise, but he is totally inexperienced so far as the extremely important domain of foreign affairs is concerned. Particularly, at a time when Pakistan is passing through one of its critical times in history of foreign relations, this appointment could not be termed as appropriate at all. 

Why wasn’t Mr. Sartaj Aziz, former Foreign Minister of Pakistan and former Adviser on Foreign Affairs to the former Prime Minister of Pakistan chosen for this vital and highly sensitive slot? This is truly inconceivable. No one could have been more suitable than Sartaj Aziz to hold the office of the Foreign Minister of Pakistan. One may say that the hitch in not appointing Mr. Sartaj Aziz as the Foreign Minister was that he is neither a senator nor a member of the National Assembly. But the fact remains that PML(N) could have very comfortably gotten him elected against the seat vacated by former PPP MNA Babar Awan. After all, PML(N) succeeded in getting its candidate Asif Kirmani elected unopposed to this seat. 

Whether or not Sartaj Aziz will be willing to continue to serve as adviser on foreign affairs to the incumbent Prime Minister of Pakistan, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, particularly when Khawaja Asif has been made a full-fledged Foreign Minister, is a million dollar question? Let us wait and see how things develop in this realm in the coming days and weeks. 

M. FAZAL ELAHI,  

Islamabad, August 7.