Crisis Persists in Pakistan as Bilawal Bhutto’s Refusal to Ministerial Post Adds to Shehbaz Sharif’s Confusion

Imran Khan’s exit may have complicated matters for Pakistan with new Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif still confused about his cabinet at a time when no government is sure of its lifespan in the country.

Sources told CNN-News18 that there is confusion between Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). While Sharif wants to give a few crucial ministries to PPP, the party’s chairman — Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari — is not keen to take responsibility and become a minister.

Several media reports have said that PPP is divided over Bhutto-Zardari’s issue as one camp within the party wants him to join the foreign ministry, which would help him gain experience in international affairs, while others think taking any post under Sharif will undermine his status.

Meanwhile, the JUIF is also coming up with new demands, seeking constitutional positions such as President of Pakistan, Chairman of Senate and Speaker of National Assembly instead of ministries.

It is expected that PML-N will have the majority in the Cabinet with 12 ministers while Bhutto-Zardari’s PPP is likely to get seven ministries in which Sherry Rehman, Khursheed Shah, Naveed Qamar, Shazia Marri, Qamar Zaman Kaira could be the candidates. Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F) will get four while MQM-P will be given two ministries. Balochistan National Party (Mengal), Awami National Party, Jamhoori Wattan Party and Balochistan Awami Party will get one ministry each.

Sources also told CNN-News18 that no party wants to face the public at this stage since there is apprehension that the new government will face several challenges and may not be able to tide over them.

Adding to the woes of the Sharif government, Pakistan’s economy is in a crippling mess with no money in the treasury and June onwards, they have no funds to pay salaries.

There is also no stopping ousted PM Imran Khan, who is hitting the streets and gaining quick support from several quarters. “Pakistan became an independent state in 1947, but today is the beginning of a renewed struggle for independence against an external conspiracy to change power. It is always the people of a country who protect and defend their sovereignty and democracy,” Khan said after his unceremonious exit following weeks of political turmoil in the country.

Khan became the first Pakistani prime minister to lose a no-trust vote, with the combined opposition casting 174 votes – two more than needed in the 342-member House – to remove him from the position.

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