The Cabinet of Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was sworn in today with media reports saying that Khawaja Asif has been appointed the country’s first full-time foreign minister since 2013.
President Mamnoon Hussain administered the oath to the new members at a ceremony at the President House in Islamabad. The new Cabinet largely retained old faces but some new leaders were included as ministers and ministers of state.
There was some confusion about the size of the Cabinet as state-run PTVreported that it included 28 ministers and 18 ministers-of-state, while Geo TVreported that 28 ministers and 19 ministers-of- state have taken oath.
There was no formal announcement so far on the portfolios. Media reports said that portfolios of several ministers from the previous Nawaz Sharif dispensation have been changed.
According to reports, Khawaja Asif has been appointed as the country’s first full-time foreign minister since 2013, when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party came to power. Asif held dual charge of the defence, water and power ministries in the previous government.
Ahsan Iqbal has been appointed the interior minister and former trade minister Khurrum Dastigir Khan was given the defence portfolio. However, the powerful former interior minister Nisar Ali Khan has been excluded from the new Cabinet as he refused to join due to differences with the party leadership, the reports said.
Ishaq Dar retained the finance ministry portfolio despite Supreme Court orders to register corruption cases against him. Daniyal Aziz, Talal Chaudhry, Arshad Leghari and Junaid Anwar Chaudhry were among the new faces to take oath.
Two days ago, Prime Minister Abbasi had delayed the formation of the Cabinet after meeting Sharif at the ousted premier’s Murree residence. Sharif has been staying in Murree since he vacated the official residence earlier this week after the Supreme Court disqualified him in connection with the Panama Papers scandal.
The transition to the new Cabinet has taken exactly seven days since Sharif’s ouster on July 28.