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Pak PM retains most members of Gilani

Islamabad: Pakistan`s new Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf retained most key members of former premier Yousuf Raza Gilani`s cabinet in the same positions as he allocated portfolios among his council of ministers. Hina Rabbani Khar retained the Foreign Ministry while Qamar Zaman Kaira returned to the Information Ministry while Naveed Qamar was again assigned the Defence Ministry.

Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, whose PML-Q party is a key ally in the Pakistan People`s Party-led coalition, was again inducted as a Senior Minister and given the defence production and industry portfolios. Farzana Raja, a loyalist of PPP chief and President Asif Ali Zaradri, was among the new faces inducted into the cabinet. She was given charge of the Benazir Income Support Programme, a scheme to help the poor.

The other members of the cabinet include Makhdoom Amin Fahim (commerce), Arbab Alamgir Khan (communication), Nazar Muhammad Gondal (capital administration and development), Rana Muhammad Farooq Saeed Khan (climate change), Abdul Hafeez Shaikh (finance), Mir Hazar Khan Bajrani (inter-provincial coordination), Manzoor Wattoo (Kashmir affairs), Farooq Naek (law and justice).

Ashraf was elected the new premier during a special session of the National Assembly yesterday. He and the council of ministers were subsequently sworn-in by President Asif Ali Zardari. The PPP nominated Ashraf, 61, as its prime ministerial candidate after former premier Gilani was disqualified by the Supreme Court on Tuesday due to his conviction of contempt.

Gilani was convicted and given a symbolic sentence of less than a minute by the apex court in April after he refused to reopen graft cases in Switzerland against Zardari. The other ministers include Khuda Bux Rajar (narcotics control), Firdous Ashiq Awan (national regulations and services), Samina Ghurki (national heritage), Mir Israrullah Zehri (food security), Farooq Sattar (overseas Pakistanis), Babar Khan Ghauri (ports and shipping), Sardar Mohammad Omar Gorgej (postal services).

Also inducted in the cabinet are Moula Baksh Chandio (political affairs), Ghulam Ahmad Bilour (railways), Khursheed Shah (religious affairs), Mir Changez Khan Jamali (science and technology), Engineer Shaukatullah (states and frontier regions), Makhdoom Shahabuddin (textiles) and Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar (water and power).

The 11 ministers of state are Abbas Ahmed Afridi (commerce), Mir Dost Muhammad Mazari (communication), Sardar Salim Haider Khan (defence), Malik Amad Khan (foreign affairs), Sumsam Ali Bukhari (information), Imtiaz Safdar Waraich (interior), Malik Azmat Khan (inter-provincial coordination), Muhammad Moazzam Ali Khan Jatoi (food security), Nadeem Ehsan (overseas Pakistanis), Rahela Baloch (science and technology) and Tasneem Ahmed Qureshi (water and power).

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