Nawaz party ministers take oath with black armbandsMarch 31st, 2008 - 6:00 pm ICT by admin
By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, March 31 (IANS) Members of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Monday took oath as federal ministers from President Pervez Musharraf wearing black armbands as a token of protest against him. Musharraf administered the oath of office to 24 members of Pakistan’s new cabinet, six weeks after opposition parties swept the elections in February.
The general-turned-civilian-president, who faces strong opposition from the ruling coalition, administered the oath to new cabinet members in the presence of Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani.
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leads the coalition government and the PML-N is the second largest alliance partner.
Earlier, the PML-N of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had said their ministers would not take oath from Musharraf but after insistence from coalition partners, they agreed to take the oath but with black bands on their arms.
All the 11 members belonging of the PML-N were wearing black bands. It is for the first time that ministers have taken such a step to protest against Musharraf, who sacked Sharif’s government in October 1999 in a bloodless military coup.
Later, Musharraf invited all the ministers to a lunch at the presidency, which was boycotted by the PML-N ministers. They even did not shake hands with Musharraf and left the hall of presidency where they took oath soon after the ceremony.
Among the 24 ministers there are at least 10 who were jailed by Musharraf’s government since 1999.
“Every one knows he is an illegal and unconstitutional president but we took oath only to save the system and for the sake of democracy,” senior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told reporters after the ceremony.
The cabinet is likely to be expanded later.
The first batch of ministers took oath after Prime Minister Gillani Saturday won a unanimous vote of confidence at the National Assembly and unveiled a 100-day action plan.
Gillani from the PPP was elected prime minister by the National Assembly March 24 and sworn in the next day, but the formation of his cabinet had been held up over differences among coalition partners over distribution of portfolios.
According to the agreement, the coalition partners would share the ministries in proportion to the National Assembly seats they won in the Feb 18 general elections.
With the formation of the government after the oath, the countdown for the implementation of the Murree Declaration would begin. The declaration promises reinstatement of the deposed judges within 30 days after the formation of the government and making the parliament sovereign and independent.
The majority of the cabinet members had been raising the slogan of ‘Go Musharraf Go’ in the previous National Assembly as well as in the senate.
From the PPP, the ministers are: Shah Mehmood Qureshi, foreign minister, Sherry Rehman, information minister, Syed Naveed Qamar, minister for privatisation/port and shipping-additional, Raja Pervez Ashraf, minister for water and power, Syed Khursheed Shah, minister for labour, manpower and overseas Pakistanis, Qamar Zaman Kaira, minister for Kashmir affairs, Farooq Naek, minister for law, justice and human rights, Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar, minister for defence, Nazar Muhammad Gondal, minister for narcotics, Najamuddin Khan, minister of states and border affairs and Mir Humayon Aziz Kurd, minister for welfare of population.
From the PML-N, the ministers are Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, senior minister and expected to hold the portfolio of inter-provincial ministry and communications, Ishaq Dar, minister for finance, economic affairs and commerce, Ahsan Iqbal, minister for education, Tehmina Daultana, minister for women development, Sardar Mehtab Abbasi, minister for railways, Khawaja Asif, minister for petroleum and natural resources, Rana Tanveer Hussain, minister for food, agriculture and livestock, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, minister for defence production and Khawaja Saad Rafiq, minister for youth affairs.
From the Awami National Party, the ministers are Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, minister for local government and rural development and Khawaja Khan Hoti, minister for social welfare and special education.
From Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur Rahman group), the ministers are Rehmatullah Kakar, minister for religious affairs and Fata and Hameedullah Jan Afridi, minister for states and frontier region.
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