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Pakistan’s new cabinet to be unveiled today

After a week-long delay, the government is forming the federal cabinet today (Monday) amid uncertainty whether Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) will become a part of it or abstain over a “disagreement” about the distribution of ministries

On Sunday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif continued to consult the ruling coalition parties and met delegations of the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and the Balochistan National Party (BNP).

On the other hand, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari, being the “guarantor” in the ruling alliance, vowed to fulfil his commitments with coalition parties regarding the distribution of ministries.

“Members of the federal cabinet are taking oath tomorrow (Monday),” Marriyum Aurangzeb, who is likely to become information minister, told Dawn.

She said the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) would get 14 ministries, followed by PPP’s 11 ministries.

She claimed that all allied parties were being accommodated in the cabinet, including JUI-F and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

Aurangzeb said a marathon meeting of a joint committee of the alliance on forming the cabinet took place on Sunday in which grievances of parties regarding the distribution of portfolios and key positions were resolved.

According to the spokesperson, the PML-N would bag the ministries of defence, finance, interior, law and justice, railways, information, energy, planning, communication, etc.

Earlier, PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah told a private TV channel that a joint committee of all allied parties in the government had finalised the formation of the new cabinet in which almost all parties had been accommodated.

He said the PPP had sought the foreign ministry for PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari. However, it’s still uncertain whether Bilawal would join Shehbaz Sharif’s cabinet or not.

However, a source in the government told Dawn that JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman was not joining the federal cabinet but assured that he would remain a government ally.

It has also been learnt that JUI-F had demanded the presidential slot and expressed displeasure over giving one ministry each to the Awami National Party (ANP) and independent MNA Mohsin Dawar.

Fazlur Rehman conveyed his displeasure to Zardari and questioned that why two ministries were given to those parties or persons who had contested elections against JUI-F and that they would give a dent to his party in the next elections too.

However, Zardari made it clear that he could not back out of his promises made with the allied parties as he was a “guarantor” in the alliance, which was formed against the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) government and that successfully removed former prime minister Ian Khan from office through a vote of no confidence.

Zardari said his party did not want to take ministries unless all allied parties were accommodated.

Meanwhile, a source in the PPP said the Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had given all-out authority to Zardari to distribute ministries to any party according to its due share.

The source said Sharif had also asked PPP to join the cabinet and it was expected that the party would get seven ministries.

He said distributing ministries and prized positions among allied parties of the new government was not an easy task as every party was hoping for lucrative and key positions.

He said that although it had been decided by the ruling coalition that Raja Pervez Ashraf of PPP would become the National Assembly speaker, Ayaz Sadiq of PML-N also came up as a candidate for the spot but later he withdrew his application when asked by the party leadership.

PPP sources also revealed that it had also been decided by the alliance that PPP leader Yousuf Raza Gilani would be the next Senate chairman.

Some of the possible ministers in the new cabinet are Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Marriyum Aurangzeb, Khawaja Asif, Miftah Ismail, Zahid Hamid, Ahsan Iqbal, Rana Sanaullah, Rana Tanvir, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Khawaja Saad Rafique, Hina Rabbani Khar, Shazia Marri, among others.

Besides, PPP and MQM would decide on the next Sindh governor.

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