By Mohammad Aslam Mir
MUZAFFARABAD: The Pakistan-administered Kashmir (PaK) cabinet is likely to be expanded for the second time since the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government came into power in 2016 general elections in the state.
PaK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan has decided to induct eight more ministers in the cabinet, taking the total strength of the members of his council of ministers to 20, said sources.
The decision was taken following the lifetime disqualification of former Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif by the Supreme Court on Friday, hastening the PaK PM to expand the cabinet to avert a possible no-confidence motion against him by a group of disgruntled legislators within his own party.
Khan, after assuming the office of PaK’s PM in July 2016, had announced to keep a ‘clean, efficient and small’ cabinet as a part of his vision of good governance in the state. Initially he formed a nine-member cabinet, but later he had to expand the cabinet by inducting three more ministers the same year.
Khan has been facing a stiff opposition from some of the legislators among the 32-member parliamentary party for a berth in the cabinet.
However, he has so far been successful in sustaining the pressure from legislators with support and blessing of the PML-N government in Islamabad, particularly from deposed PM Nawaz Sharif.
Now with the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif for life, the PaK PM has been left with no option but to appease dissidents by inducting eight more ministers in his cabinet to keep the parliamentary party intact and to save his government.
Those who are likely to be inducted in the cabinet are Muhammad Ishaq, Ahmed Raza Qadri, Raja Muhammad Siddiq, Jawed Akhtar, Raja Naseer, Raja Abdul Qayyum Khan, Yaseen Gulshan and Chaudhry Masood Khalid.
They are likely to take oath of their offices in next 24 hours. PaK President Sardar Masood Khan will administer oath to the ‘newly-inducted ministers’.
File photo: Pakistan-administered Kashmir Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider Khan