Imran Khan speaks during a budget session in the National Assembly. File
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has reshuffled its cabinet with a newly assigned role to Sheikh Rashid Ahmed as interior minister.
According to Prime Minister Office, the portfolio of finance minister has been given to Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh while Azam Khan Sawati appointed as railways minister and Brigadier (read) Ijaz Ahmad Shah as minister for narcotics control
Sheikh Rashid, who was serving as the minister for railways, has been made minister for interior. Brig (retd) Ijaz Shah, who was working as the interior minister, has been shifted to the anti-narcotics ministry. Similarly, Azam Swati, who was serving as the anti-narcotics minister, has been shifted to the railways ministry.
Dr Shaikh’s induction as minister comes in the wake of an Islamabad High Court (IHC) ruling that said that the unelected persons could not head cabinet committees. An unelected person inducted in the federal cabinet can remain minister for six months under the Constitution.
President Dr Arif Alvi administered the oath to Dr Shaikh at the presidency at a ceremony, which was attended by federal ministers and bureaucrats.
Before that, Prime Minister Imran Khan consulted with his legal team to discuss options to deal with the complications arising out of the IHC verdict as four committees of the federal cabinet were being headed by Shaikh.
Razzak Dawood and Dr Faisal Sultan, who are serving as the advisers to the premier, may also be appointed as federal ministers until the Senate elections next year. They are likely to be given Senate tickets by the ruling party so that they could continue holding these positions after becoming members of the upper house of parliament.
The IHC in its judgment had set aside a notification through which the premier had reconstituted the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP) headed by Dr Shaikh.
The other committees headed by the finance adviser included the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet, Cabinet Committee on State-owned Enterprises (CCSOEs) and the Executive Committee of National Economic Council (ECNEC).
Imran said the opposition parties have been blackmailing the government since day one to grant them amnesty. He said that the NRO given to the opposition by Pervez Musharraf had had disastrous effects on Pakistan, leading to an increase in debt liabilities.
"I want to pay tribute to GB scouts and those martyrs who gave sacrifices and freed this region. I wanted to congratulate people of GB on another thing: our decision to give GB provincial status. This decision has been taken while keeping in view the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions."
Imran said that the ticket prices for the Peshawar BRT were "just right." "Our programmes should give priority to improving the lives of the common man. Everyone can afford the ticket which ranges from Rs10 (0.02 files) to Rs50 (Dh1.02). There are also tickets for students to make travelling easier for them and hospitals have been connected so people will no longer face difficulties in this regard.”
"We had a very difficult two years. We didn't have foreign exchange and couldn't pay our debts. We have avoided a huge crisis because we didn't default (payments). But I know it hasn't been easy for the people, I understand the difficulties they faced and still are facing,” he said in a televised address to the nation.
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