ISLAMABAD: In the second phase of cabinet reshuffle ahead of its meeting today (Wednesday), Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday sprang another surprise by changing the portfolios of three federal ministers.
Manzoor Wattoo, Minister for Industries and Production, has been given the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan. Currently, Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira is looking after the ministry.
The Ministry of Industries and Production has now been allotted to Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani, who has been replaced by Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali as education minister. Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali has been appointed as adviser to the prime minister on education.
The prime minister has sent an advice to the president to appoint Sardar Aseff Ahmed Ali as his adviser on education. A notification in this regard will be issued after the president’s approval.
The portfolio of Minister for Investment Senator Waqar Ahmed Khan has also been changed and now he has been given the Ministry of Privatisation. It was, however, not clear whether Manzoor Wattoo will also take oath as the acting governor of Gilgit-Baltistan, the post Kaira held by virtue of being in charge of the Ministry of Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan.
The Ministry of Planning and Development as well as the Ministry of Investment will report directly to the prime minister. Before reshuffling the cabinet, the prime minister held separate meetings with Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo, Senator Waqar Ahmad Khan, Mir Hazar Khan Bijarani and Sardar Aseff Ahmad Ali.
In the first phase, the prime minister assigned the Health Ministry to Makhdoom Shahabuddin while Mir Ijaz Khan Jakhrani was made minister for sports. Pir Aftab Shah Jilani was shifted from the Ministry of Sports to the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination.
Meanwhile, the committee on austerity measures, headed by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin, is likely to present its report to the cabinet today in its meeting. It has suggested, among other measures, two weekly offs for government departments, reduction in motorcade of the ministers, and reduction in their foreign tours. [The NEWS]