Islamabad, Apr 22 (PTI) Three cabinet ministers and one junior rank minister took oath on Friday in the first expansion of the cabinet of new Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
President Dr Arif Alvi administered the oath at the Aiwan-i-Sadr in the presence of Prime Minister Sharif, marking the first occasion when the two shared the stage at a state event.
Alvi had previously “complained of discomfort” a day before oath-taking of Shehbaz and also was not available to administer oath to the cabinet on April 19. On both occasions, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani administered the oath.
Those who took oath on Friday as ministers include Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s (PML-Q) Chaudhry Salik Hussain, Balochistan National Party-Mengal’s (BNP-M) Agha Hassan Baloch and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Javed Latif, while BNP-M’s Hashim Notezai was inducted as a minister of state.
The details about their portfolios were not immediately available.
With the induction of the new ministers, the strength of the cabinet headed by Sharif has now risen to 37.
Earlier, it was announced that 34 ministers and ministers of the state had taken oath (on Tuesday) but it turned out that Mustafa Khokhar, a lawmaker belonging to Pakistan Peoples Party, had skipped the ceremony at the last minute, as he was not happy with the post of minister of the state offered to him.
The latest oath-taking was held just a day after Prime Minister Shehbaz visited the President to enquire about his health.
His willingness to administer oath showed that relations between the top two constitutional offices of the country are on the mend.
Alvi is a diehard follower of ousted prime minister Imran Khan and his refusal to administer oath raised questions about his role as the head of the state. Khan is the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party. President Alvi is a member of Khan’s party.
As far as the cabinet expansion is concerned, the addition of BNP-M is a victory for Shehbaz as the party represents the hardcore nationalists from the restive Balochistan province.
BNP-M had refused to join the cabinet in the protest over a firing incident by the security forces in Chaghi district where a civilian was killed.
The induction of Javed Latif, a committed party leader, is also interesting as he reportedly was not on talking terms with Prime Minister Sharif since he had raised questions over Sharif’s alleged links with the establishment.