Nearly a week after Nawaz Sharif’s ouster, Pakistan’s new prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi created new ministries and divisions in his newly formed cabinet on Friday. He has filled it with his toppled predecessor aides and allies. Most notable is the inclusion of Darshan Lal, first Hindu to be part of cabinet in more than two decades.
65-year-old Lal is a practising doctor from Mirpur Mathelo town in Ghotki district of Sindh. He has been appointed to lead coordination between four Pakistani provinces.In 2013, he was elected to the national assembly for the second time on PML-N ticket on a reserved seat for minorities. Under Sharif, the PML-N has also courted the minority vote, using symbolic gestures at odds with its conservative base.
The cabinet has almost doubled in size to 47 members, sworn in during a televised ceremony after a reading from the Koran holy book in the mainly Muslim nation of 190 million people.The new cabinet includes six new ministers who had not been part of the Nawaz Sharif government.
Khawaja Mohammed Asif, minister for defence and power in previous cabinet, is the new foreign minister. He is known for his hawkish anti-India position.
Nawaz Sharif resigned last week after the Supreme Court disqualified him over allegations against the Sharif family for their alleged money laundering and establishing properties abroad.However, Sharif continues to exude power as he retains control of PML-N and put forward Abbasi as temporary prime minister until Shahbaz becomes eligible to take over by winning a parliamentary by-election.
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