Hafeez Shaikh was named by Prime Minister Imran Khan as the federal finance minister, while Sheikh Rashid was given the portfolio of the interior ministry in yet another cabinet shakeup, Radio Pakistan announced.
Rashid was succeeded by Azam Swati as Minister of Railways, while Brig Ijaz Ahmed Shah, who previously held the portfolio of the Interior Ministry, was appointed as Minister of Narcotics Control.
This is the PTI government’s fourth federal cabinet shakeup in less than three years.
The reorganisation comes days after the Islamabad High Court ruled that un-elected advisors and special assistants were unable to lead government committees and that the notification of the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation, chaired by Hafeez, had consequently been set aside. The change was seen as a significant blow to the privatisation efforts of the government, spearheaded by un-elected federal cabinet members.
According to Article 91(9) of the Constitution, while Hafeez is not an elected member of the National Assembly, any person who is not a member of Parliament can be a minister for six months. A non-elected candidate could be elected to the Assembly in order to become a minister again.
‘A minister who is not a member of the National Assembly for any period of six consecutive months shall cease to be a minister at the expiry of that period and shall not be appointed minister again until the dissolution of that Assembly unless he is elected a member of that Assembly,’ reads Article 91 of Section 9.
Ever since the PTI came to power, the federal cabinet has been reshuffled four times. The first big reshuffle occurred in April 2019, less than a year since the party came to power, when Hafeez was elected after the resignation of Asad Umar as the prime minister’s advisor on finance. The Prime Minister had also named Shah as Minister of the Interior and brought in, among other reforms, Firdous Ashiq Awan and a special assistant to the Prime Minister on media and broadcasting.
In November 2019, when Umar was taken back as planning minister to the federal cabinet when Khusro Bakhtiar was appointed as minister of economic affairs, the second shakeup arrived.
The reshuffle came two days after findings on the sugar crisis and the beneficiaries of subsidies received by the bigwigs of the sector were published by the Federal Investigative Agency squad. Bakhtiar, then the Minister for National Food Security, was appointed a beneficiary of the study on the sugar crisis.
The prime minister dismissed Awan earlier this year as a special assistant and instead named retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa. As information minister, Senator Shibli Faraz was named.