Federal cabinet takes oath
ISLAMABAD (92 News) – The 47-member federal cabinet has on Friday took oath in a ceremony held at Aiwan-e-Sadr in Islamabad. President Mamnoon Hussain administered the oath to the cabinet members. Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi was also present on the occasion. A majority of old faces have been included in the cabinet, while Ch Nisar is not a part of the cabinet. There are 28 federal ministers and 19 state ministers in the new cabinet, almost double Sharif's 25-strong cabinet when he swept the 2013 polls. Ishaq Dar returns in the same role, despite a criminal investigation ordered against him by the Supreme Court. Another staunch Sharif ally, Khawaja Asif, is to be Foreign Minister after having simultaneously run the ministries of defence and power. Abbasi will also head a new energy ministry that merges the petroleum and power portfolios. Ahsan Iqbal, head of a commission tasked with building the Beijing-funded $57 billion China-Pakistan Economic corridor, has been appointed Interior Minister. The cabinet has almost doubled in size to 47 members, sworn in during a televised ceremony after a reading from the Koran holy book in the mainly Muslim nation of 190 million people. 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. Nawaz Sharif resigned last week after the Supreme Court disqualified him for not declaring a source of income he denies receiving. But he retains control of PML-N and put forward Abbasi as temporary prime minister until Shahbaz becomes eligible to take over by winning a parliamentary by-election. Since Abbasi's election, however, the party leadership no longer seems sure about that plan, as some fear Shahbaz's departure from his position as chief minister of eastern Punjab state could weaken the party's grip on a core base of voters. Pakistan's mix of political parties means that whoever wins Punjab, which is home to more than half the country's population, is likely to form the next government.