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Saturday, Aug 24, 2019

What will Imran Khan’s cabinet look like? Here are the likely picks

A number of new faces, including women, are expected to be included in Imran Khan’s cabinet.

world Updated: Aug 04, 2018 21:10 IST
Imtiaz Ahmad
Imtiaz Ahmad
Hindustan Times
Imran Khan will have to share some cabinet slots with coalition partners.
Imran Khan will have to share some cabinet slots with coalition partners. (Reuters File Photo)

As the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) secures the backing of smaller parties and independent candidates to form the next government, several names are being considered for slots in the cabinet to be led by Imran Khan.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi, the vice-chairman of the PTI, is being tipped to be either the next foreign minister or interior minister. Qureshi, the son of a former Punjab governor, earlier served as foreign minister in the Pakistan People’s Party government.

He comes from south Punjab’s powerful landed gentry and is the spiritual leader of one of Multan’s most prominent shrines.

The other contender for foreign minister is Shireen Mazari, an old PTI hand who is perceived to be close to the military establishment. Mazari, who was once editor of an English daily, focuses on defence and strategic issues. She also headed the think tank Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad for several years and is known for her hardline stance towards India.

Senator Shafqat Mehmood is being considered for the post of defence minister, PTI officials said. Mehmood may also be considered for the post of interior minister given his background in the bureaucracy, but that will depend on what Qureshi decides, they added.

The man tipped for the post of finance minister is Asad Umar, the son of Maj Gen (retired) Ghulam Umar. Umar’s last job was as CEO of Engro Corporation, Pakistan’s first multinational company. He is the only leaders whose name has been announced for a ministerial post by Imran Khan.

Arif Alvi and Shafqat Mahmood are being considered for the post of Speaker of the National Assembly while the slot of deputy speaker could go to Zartaj Gul Wazir or a member from a coalition partner.

Fawad Chaudhry, the PTI spokesman and one of the most visible faces of the party, could be the automatic choice for information minister. But he is also being tipped as a candidate for the post of chief minister of Punjab. There is also a proposal to wind up the information ministry and make it a department under the interior ministry.

The former chief minister Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Pervez Khattak, could be offered a post at the centre as a cabinet advisor as Imran Khan may opt for a younger face in the northwestern province. Media reports have said Atif Khan may be given the chief minister’s post. Khattak faces allegations of corruption over the unfinished metro-bus project in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, which many have described as a disaster.

A number of new faces, including women, are expected to be included in Imran Khan’s cabinet. The PTI could include a member from minority communities, which may give Pakistan’s its first Sikh cabinet minister. Sardar Suran Singh, a PTI member of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa assembly, was shot dead in mysterious circumstances in 2016. It is expected one of his family members may be inducted in the cabinet as an advisor, insiders said.

Imran Khan will have to share some cabinet slots with coalition partners. This includes Shaikh Rasheed Ahmed of the Awami Muslim League (AML), who may become railways minister. Despite the fact that AML won only one seat in Parliament, Ahmed is one of the oldest allies of the PTI and has maintained a high profile at all PTI events. He is also known to be close to the military.

Among the coalition partners, MQM-Pakistan would be interested in the ports and shipping portfolio while the Grand Democratic Alliance may vie for the agriculture or food portfolio.

As things stand, the PTI is expected to announce its claim to form government over the weekend. PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry has said the party will be able to muster the required numbers by then.  

First Published: Aug 04, 2018 21:08 IST

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