Pak’s caretaker PM allocates portfolios to ministers

Islamabad: Portfolios were today allocated to the 14 members of Pakistan's interim administration, with caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso retaining the key Foreign and Defence Ministries.

Khoso allocated portfolios to the ministers who were sworn in yesterday by President Asif Ali Zardari.

As expected, senior journalist Arif Nizami was given the information portfolio and Ahmer Bilal Soofi, an expert on international law who has advised the Pakistan government on matters like the Mumbai attacks, the law, human rights and parliamentary affairs portfolios.

Malik Habib, a retired inspector general of police, was named the caretaker Interior and Narcotics Control Minister.

Habib had told the media after being sworn in that he would focus on the security situation in Sindh and Balochistan provinces.

Army soldiers will be deployed at "sensitive places" for the May 11 general election but "not everywhere in the country", Habib said.

Musaddaq Malik was given the crucial water and power portfolio and will have to play a key role in tackling a crippling energy crisis.

Shahzada Ahsan Ashraf Sheik was allocated the industries and production portfolio, Maqbool H H Rahmatoola the textiles and commerce portfolios, Abdul Malik Kasi the railways portfolio and Asadullah Mandokhel the port and shipping and communications portfolios.

Khoso had yesterday named a 15-member cabinet but one candidate, Mushtaq Khan, was not sworn in as he is serving as the chief economic adviser in the State Bank of Pakistan.

Mir Hassan Domki will be the caretaker Food Security Minister, Sania Nishter the caretaker Science and Technology and Education Minister, Feroze Jamal Shah Kakakhel the caretaker Minister for Overseas Pakistanis, Younis Soomro the caretaker Housing and Works Minister and Shahzada Jamal the caretaker Religious and National Harmony Minister.

Most of the caretaker ministers are little known personalities though some of them are experts in their respective fields.

Some reports suggested the caretaker ministers are all people the 84-year-old Khoso knows personally or has worked with in the past.

Khoso took oath of office on March 25 and had been busy since then consulting political leaders and other stakeholders on the formation of his cabinet that will serve till the general election.