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Cabinet of Pak PM sworn in, Khawaja Asif becomes new FM

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Pakistan’s new Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi today unveiled his Cabinet with Khawaja Asif appointed as the country’s first full-time foreign minister since 2013.

President Mamnoon Hussain administered the oath to 28 federal ministers and 18 state ministers at a ceremony at the President House in Islamabad, Dawn newspaper reported.

The new Cabinet largely retained old faces but some new leaders were included as ministers and ministers of state.

The cabinet members and their portfolios were finalised by Abbasi after six-hour-long consultations with his predecessor Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in the resort town of Murree yesterday.

Asif, earlier the defence minister in the Sharif government, will serve as the country’s new foreign minister.

The country remained without a foreign minister after 2013 when the PML-N came into power. The last foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, was appointed by the Pakistan People’s Party.

Ahsan Iqbal, former minister for planning, will take charge of the key interior ministry.

Ishaq Dar will continue as finance minister whereas Pervez Malik will be the new minister for commerce in place of Khurram Dastagir Khan, who took charge of the defence ministry.

Dar retained the finance ministry portfolio despite Supreme Court orders to register corruption cases against him.

Marriyum Aurangzeb has retained the portfolio of State Information Minister.

However, the powerful former interior minister Nisar Ali Khan has been excluded from the new Cabinet as he refused to join due to differences with the party leadership.

Two days ago, Prime Minister Abbasi had delayed the formation of the Cabinet after meeting Sharif.

Sharif has been staying in Murree since he vacated the official residence earlier this week after the Supreme Court disqualified him in connection with the Panama Papers scandal.

The transition to the new Cabinet has taken exactly seven days since Sharif’s ouster on July 28.

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