ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has decided to bring in a new team, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz said Monday.
Geo News it has previously reported citing sources that the PTI-led federal government has decided to replace Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh with Industry Minister Hammad Azhar. PM Imran Khan reportedly asked the Shaykh to step down from his role, the source added.
The move was made because of resentment among government ministers about tax issues and a bill that grants autonomy to the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), according to a Geo News report.
In his remarks today, Faraz said the prime minister had formed a new finance team under Azhar’s leadership.
“Abdul Hafeez Shaikh is no longer the finance minister,” said the federal minister, adding that he did not know what Shaikh’s future was like now.
Faraz said the decision was made taking into account the realities of the state and the PTI regime wanting to provide assistance to the poor.
“If there are new people, new ideas emerge,” he said, confirming that Azhar had been given a portfolio of the Ministry of Finance.
The future of Abdul Hafeez Shaikh is unknown, he added.
Defeat the Shaykh in the Senate
The development of the reshuffle came after the PPP candidate in Senate elections, Yousaf Raza Gillani, defeated Shaikh for the general seat of Islamabad, after which PM Imran Khan on March 6 directed Shaikh to carry out his duties as federal minister for finance and revenue.
Previous sources have informed Geo News that the prime minister has expressed full confidence in the finance minister’s abilities. PM Imran asked Khan to say he recognized Shaikh’s efforts to improve Pakistan’s economy, they added.
The sources added that the Sheikh decided not to hand over his resignation after his meeting with the prime minister.
PTI ‘SAPM advisors and puzzles’
In 2019, the Sheikh was appointed as the prime minister’s financial adviser in the cabinet reshuffle after Asad Umar submitted his resignation as finance minister.
However, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) ruled in December 2020 that the prime minister’s special assistant (SAPM) and advisors do not have the authority to chair or participate in Cabinet committee meetings.
Granting federal ministerial status to advisers is “for profit and privilege purposes only” and “does not make advisers such federal ministers,” IHC observed in its assessment. A few days later, the Shaykh was sworn in as minister of finance and revenue.
The PTI government was looking for the results of the Senate poll to solve the puzzle but the Shaykh lost to Gilani in Islamabad. The former still has until June – under a regulation that would allow him to become finance minister – to continue his duties in that capacity.