Imran Khan carries yet another cabinet reshuffle

Islamabad: Prime Minister Imran Khan yesterday carried yet another reshuffle of the federal cabinet.
Adviser on finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh is now the minister of finance, former interior minister Ijaz Shah is given narcotics control portfolio while former railways minister Sheikh Rasheed is now the minister of interior. Meanwhile, Azam Khan Swati has been made federal minister for railways.

This is the fourth federal cabinet reshuffle since the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI)-led government came into power three years ago.

This reshuffling comes shortly after the ruling of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) On December 7, that special assistants and advisers to the prime minister were not members of the cabinet and therefore, cannot be part of cabinet proceedings.

The judgment, from a division bench comprising Justice Aamir Farooq and Justice Ghulam Azam Qambrani, noted that Article 93 of the Constitution allows the prime minister to appoint up to five advisors and conferring of a federal minister status on an advisor is “only for the purpose of perks and privileges” and “does not make the advisor a federal minister as such”.

Hafeez, who was sworn in for a period of six months by President Dr Arif Alvi, is not a member of the parliament. However, according to Article 91 (9) of the Constitution, any individual who is not part of the parliament can be a minister for six months.

In order to become a minister again, the unelected member should be elected to the National Assembly (NA) or the Senate.

This is the fourth reshuffle of the cabinet since the PTI came into power in 2018. The first reshuffle took place in April 2019, wherein Hafeez was appointed as the adviser on finance after Asad Umar’s resignation. In November 2019, Asad was brought back to the federal cabinet as planning minister while Khusro Bakhtiar was appointed as minister for economic affairs. Earlier this year, the premier removed Awan as special assistant and appointed Asim Saleem Bajwa instead. Senator Shibli Faraz was appointed as the information minister.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court (SC) will take up the contempt petition against newly appointed Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed on December 15.