The new interim cabinet of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, consisting of twelve members including nine ministers and two advisers along with a special assistant, was officially inaugurated on Saturday. The oath-taking ceremony took place at the Governor’s House and was presided over by Governor Ghulam Ali. Notable attendees included the KP caretaker Chief Minister, Mohammad Azam Khan, and other dignitaries.
Among the appointed ministers are Syed Masud Shah, Barrister Feroze Jamal Shah Kakakhel, retired Justice Irshad Qaiser, Ahmad Rasool Bangash, Asif Rafiq, Dr Najeebullah, Dr Mohammad Qasim Jan, retired Justice Arshad Hussain Shah, and Syed Aamir Abdullah. Serving as advisers to the Chief Minister are Dr Riaz Anwar and Dr Sarfaraz Ali Shah, while Zafarullah Khan assumes the role of special assistant to the Chief Minister.
The swearing-in event transpired a day after the governor accepted a summary submitted by CM Khan, outlining the new cabinet appointments. This development follows a sequence of resignations from the prior caretaker cabinet.
On August 10, nineteen members of the previous cabinet relinquished their roles due to alleged political involvement, while the remaining six resigned the subsequent day. These resignations were promptly handed over to the Chief Minister during a casual meeting over tea, as per his request.
However, it is worth noting that a few cabinet members resisted this decision, asserting that they were not engaged in politics nor had they participated in political gatherings.
This series of resignations was initially sparked by the departure of caretaker minister Shahid Khattak on July 24, who cited personal commitments for his decision. His attendance at a political gathering organized by the Awami National Party drew the attention of the Election Commission of Pakistan on July 23, leading to his resignation a day later.
On July 31, the Election Commission of Pakistan wrote a letter to the caretaker CM, reminding him of the constitutional obligation to ensure impartial and transparent elections as outlined in Article 218(3) of the Constitution. The commission urged Mr. Khan to remove all cabinet members involved in politics.
Subsequently, on August 12, Governor Ghulam Ali accepted the resignations of 14 ministers and 11 aides to the Chief Minister, including six special assistants and five advisers.
The new cabinet
Regarding the new cabinet, it’s noteworthy that Masud Shah, Mr Kakakhel, retired Justice Qaiser, and Dr Anwar were also part of the previous caretaker cabinet. Retired Justice Qaiser, hailing from the Hazara division, previously served as the chief judge of the Gilgit-Baltistan Supreme Appellate Court from 2019 to 2022 and has a background as the deputy attorney general for Pakistan.
Mohammad Qasim Jan is recognized for his expertise in education, while Zafarullah has a history in law enforcement as a retired police officer.
Dr Najeebullah, holding a PhD from the University of Cambridge in Material Science, is known for his role as the founding director of the US-Pakistan Centre for Advanced Studies in Energy.
His career includes working as a project director at the University of Engineering and Applied Sciences in Swat and collaborating with UNDP on a 10-year energy plan for the former Fata region. He also contributed as a consultant on Chinese overseas investment in renewable energy projects through the Belt and Road Initiative in partnership with Tufts University Boston.
Currently, Dr Najeebullah holds the position of a member (Science, Technology, and ICT) at the Planning Commission of Pakistan, overseeing the development portfolio of science, technology, information technology, and higher education ministries