Bilawal Bhutto takes
charge of FM, holds talks
with President Alvi and
PM Shahbaz separately

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ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi on Wednesday administered the oath of office to Chairperson of Pakistan Peoples Party Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as the federal minister. He will look after the responsibilities as Foreign Minister.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif witnessed the oath-taking ceremony here at the President House, which was attended by former president Asif Ali Zardari, ex-prime ministers Yousuf Raza Gilani and Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, and a large number of parliamentarians, party workers, and government officials.

The close family members of Bilawal Bhutto including his sister Aseefa Bhutto and maternal aunt Sanam Bhutto – the sister of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, also attended the ceremony.

Bilawal Bhutto joined the cabinet in the third phase of its formation as the earlier swearing-in ceremonies were taken place on April 19 and April 22.

The new cabinet reflects the political mix of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F), Pakistan Muslim League-Q and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).

Meeting with President Alvi

After oath-taking, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari held a one-to-one meeting with President Dr. Arif Alvi at the President House lasted more than half an hour meeting.

Both the leaders discussed the current political situation and Pakistan’s foreign relations with concerned countries especially the neighbour nations, Kashmir and Afghan affairs.

ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi administers oath to PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari at the President House on Wednesday. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is also seated.

Thirty-three-year-old Bilawal was first elected to the National Assembly in 2018. This is the first time he will be serving as a member of the federal cabinet. While there was no immediate official confirmation about Bilawal’s portfolio, his sister Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari had congratulated him earlier in the day for taking oath as the country’s foreign minister.

“Today Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will take oath as Pakistan’s foreign minister in this unity government — decided by [the] PPP CEC (central executive committee) and we couldn’t be more proud of him! Already outshone in parliament and always stuck to his democratic values — excited to witness this path if God wills,” she had tweeted.

ISLAMABAD: PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari meeting with President Alvi at the President House on Wednesday.

Bilawal had also hinted during a press conference on Tuesday that he would be allocated the foreign ministry portfolio, while confirming that he would be taking oath as a federal minister today.

When he was questioned by a reporter to comment on matters of foreign policy, he had said he would soon hold a press conference on the issue.

Background interviews with several PPP leaders had earlier confirmed reports in media circles that Bilawal could become the foreign minister, though in-house consultation on the matter was still ongoing at the time.

During yesterday’s press conference, Bilawal had also explained his decision of joining PM Shehbaz’s cabinet and said “one-sided decision making” was not possible and it was up to all the political parties to find solutions to the problems collectively.

“We have to understand that this isn’t an ordinary coalition government. This unity government is a result of the parties on the opposition benches going to the treasury benches for the first time in the history of Pakistan.

“This is a very big challenge [and] everyone must play their role and share their burdens,” the PPP chairman had added.

He had expressed the hope that as part of the team, at times the PPP’s priorities would be given weight and sometimes those of other political parties would take the forefront so solutions could be found together.

Asif Zardari, Bilawal meets Shehbaz

President of Pakistan Peoples’ Party Parliamentarians and Member of National Assembly Asif Ali Zardari Wednesday called on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif here.

Federal ministers Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Khawaja Muhammad Asif and Khawaja Saad Rafiq were also present. During the meeting, they discussed the overall political situation in the country.

ISLAMABAD: Former President Asif Ali Zardari, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Wednesday. Federal Minister Khawaja Asif and Saad Rafique were present at this meeting.

The prime minister said that the country’s development was linked with the supremacy of the constitution and the democratic process. They agreed to work in unison with all political parties for democratic stability as well as the public welfare.

The prime minister congratulated Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on taking the oath as federal minister and reiterated resolve to overcome the prevailing challenges through mutual cooperation.

Three ministers

Meanwhile, the federal government on Tuesday notified portfolios of five new ministers — four federal and one state — a week after the 37-member cabinet of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif took their oath.

According to a notification issued by the Cabinet Division, Khurram Dastagir Khan has been given the portfolio of power, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has been made the minister for economic affairs, Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada has been appointed the human rights minister, while Murtaza Javed Abbasi has bagged the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs.

This combination of photos shows Khurram Dastgir Khan (L), Sardar Ayaz Sadiq (C) and Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada (R).

In addition, Muhammad Hashim Notezai has been made the minister of state for power. The first oath-taking ceremony of PM’s Shehbaz’s cabinet was held on April 19 at the President’s House without President Dr Alvi, who was reportedly unwell at the time. He was, however, present when a second oath-taking ceremony was held for four new members of the cabinet.

The second swearing-in ceremony took place just days after the president and the prime minister held their first meeting since Shehbaz became premier. The President’s Secretariat had said the leaders discussed issues related to the evolving political and economic situation in the country.

PM Shehbaz’s cabinet continued to expand amid reports of differences among allies in the new coalition government and even within the PML-N over the selection of members and distribution of portfolios among them.