No surprises as Pakistan's new PM Shahbaz names cabinet - GulfToday

No surprises as Pakistan's new PM Shahbaz names cabinet


Shahbaz Sharif speaks to media outside the parliament in Islamabad. File

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif sprang no big surprises in naming his new cabinet on Tuesday, doling out key portfolios to officials from the two parties that combined to oust Imran Khan after weeks of political crisis.

The cabinet is drawn mostly from Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), who combined to force a no-confidence vote that ousted Imran Khan on April 10.

The key finance ministry returns to Miftah Ismail, a PML-N loyalist who served as deputy and briefly minister during the party's last tenure from 2013-2018.

He inherits an economy in the doldrums, with crippling debt, galloping inflation and a feeble rupee.

New Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, meanwhile, will have to tackle rising militancy and the threat of civil unrest from the huge public rallies Khan has called across the country in the months ahead.

There were just five women in Sharif's 37-member cabinet, including outspoken Mariyum Aurangzeb returning in charge of information and responsible for selling the government's message in what promises to be a heated lead up to any next election.

Sharif, brother of three-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, did not name a foreign minister but that role is expected to go to the scion of another political family, 33-year-old Bilawal Zardari Bhutto.

The PPP's Bhutto is the son of former president Asif Ali Zardari and assassinated ex-premier Benazir Bhutto, as well as the grandson of another prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was executed in 1979.

If confirmed, the Oxford-educated Bhutto would be one of the world's youngest foreign ministers and tasked with repairing links with the West that frayed under the leadership of Khan, who accused Washington of conspiring to oust him.

Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan's first woman foreign minister in the last PPP government, was named deputy.


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