PM Abbasi forms cabinet with an eye to 2018 poll

Abbasi cabinet includes 27 federal ministers and 17 ministers of state.Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Friday formed a cabinet filled with allies of toppled leader Nawaz Sharif, in a reshuffle that appears aimed at bolstering support ahead of general elections due in mid-2018.

Khurram Dastagir — the commerce minister in Sharif’s cabinet — will be taking over as the defence minister.

Senator Mushahidullah Khan will be the minister for climate change, the portfolio he lost when he resigned around two years ago after a controversial interview alleging the military’s role in scheming against the civilian government.

Pervaiz Malik will become minister for commerce.

Ishaq Dar, a powerful finance minister, returns in the same role, despite a criminal investigation ordered against him by the Supreme Court.

Khawaja Asif, is to be foreign minister after having simultaneously run the ministries of defense and power.

Arshad Laghari will be the state minister for industries and production, Junaid Anwar will take oath as state minister for communication, Talal Chaudhry will become the state minister for interior while Marriyum Aurangzeb will retain her portfolio as state minister for information and broadcasting.

Anusha Rahman will retain her portfolio as state minister for IT and Telecommunication, Saira Afzal Tarar will also retain her portfolio as state minister for health.

The cabinet has almost doubled in size to 47 members.

No decision appears to have yet been made by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party over whether Abbasi will stay as premier or step down after a brief period to make way for Sharif’s brother Shahbaz, as outlined previously.

MNAs Daniyal Aziz, Mir Dostain Domki and Mumtaz Tarar did not attend the ceremony despite being on the list of new ministers.

No decision appears to have yet been made by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party over whether Abbasi will stay as premier or step down after a brief period to make way for Sharif’s brother Shahbaz, as outlined previously.

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