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Sharif retains Pak's foreign affairs portfolio

June 08, 2013 16:34 IST

With Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif deciding to retain Pakistan's foreign affairs portfolio, former minister Sartaj Aziz will play a crucial role as his advisor in charting a way forward on issues like relations with India and the United States.

The cabinet division has notified the appointment of the 84-year-old Aziz as advisor to the prime minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs.

Aziz served as both finance and foreign minister in Sharif's last term as premier in the late 1990s. Over the past few weeks, Aziz has been advising Sharif on foreign policy issues and participating in meetings with foreign envoys and visiting leaders.

Sources in the PML-N said Aziz will play a major role in shaping the new government's policy for relations with India and the US and for the endgame in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan will be the new government's point man for dealing with law and order problems and a Taliban insurgency, while Power Minister Khwaja Asif has been entrusted the tasking of addressing a crippling energy crisis.

Khan, a hawk considered close to the military and a political heavyweight from the Rawalpindi region, was allocated the Interior Ministry hours after 25 members of Sharif's council of ministers were sworn in yesterday.

Asif, a former banker, has been allocated the crucial water and power portfolio at a time when cities and towns across Pakistan are coping with power cuts of up to 20 hours a day.

Image: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif

Photograph: Reuters

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