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Boys’ club no more: Pakistan’s new Cabinet has women in key positions

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Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif’s new 37-member Cabinet has a total of five women on board.
Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif’s new 37-member Cabinet has a total of five women on board.

PAKISTAN: After much ado, Pakistan’s new 37-member strong federal Cabinet took oath earlier on Tuesday. The delay in formation of the Cabinet had given rise to speculation about differences within the coalition government, which have now been put to rest.

The new federal Cabinet of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has 31 federal ministers, three ministers of state and as many advisers to the prime minister. With five women in important positions, the new team of ministers is a refreshing respite from the previous Cabinet of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) which was largely male-dominated.

Hina Rabbani Khar of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has been made the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs. Earlier, reports suggesting that PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will be named as the Foreign Minister had been doing the rounds. But Bhutto’s name was not included in the final list of ministers. It is unclear as to why the PPP Chairperson did not get a ministry in the new Government.

Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s former Ambassador to the US, has been made the minister for climate change. The previous government appeared least interested in handling the menace of climate change, which is why this ministry was given to PTI leader Zartaj Gul who had little or no expertise on the matter. Gul took the Internet by storm in 2019 when she claimed that pleasant weather is a sign of honest rulers and later when she said the term ‘COVID-19’ meant the virus has ‘19 points’. The minister’s absurd statements further revealed how an individual with no knowledge on the subject was in charge of Pakistan’s climate change policy.

With Sherry Rehman at the helm of affairs, the climate change ministry will certainly get a new direction. Rehman enjoys an excellent reputation and her services to the country as Pakistan’s envoy to the US and earlier as the information minister (a position from which she resigned in 2019 after developing differences with her own government over media censorship) are acknowledged even by PPP’s rivals. The transition from Zartaj Gul to Sherry Rehman is therefore a sign of better days to come.

Marriyum Aurangzeb, Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N)’s outspoken leader, is the new information minister. Two first-timers are PPP’s Shazia Marri and PML-N’s Aisha Ghaus Pasha who will serve as Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) minister and state minister for finance respectively.


Thursday, April 21, 2022 – 01:00

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