Cabinet dissolution likely in Pakistan

Posted By: Pti
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Rezaul H Laskar

Islamabad, Feb 4 (PTI) The Pakistani capital was todayabuzz with reports that Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilaniwould dissolve the federal cabinet in the next few days thoughthere was no official word on such a possibility.

The Pakistan People''s Party-led government wasreported to be weighing two options � whether to dissolve theentire cabinet or to reduce its size to half in line with alandmark constitutional reforms package passed by parliamentlast year.

Reports also said that several key ministers could bedropped during the exercise.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Gilani are expected tochair a crucial meeting of the PPP''s central executivecommittee later in the day to decide the matter, TV newschannels reported.

Geo News channel reported that Gilani might dissolvethe cabinet and announce the names of 10 to 12 ministers.

The existing cabinet comprises 62 members.

Under the 18th constitutional amendment, the size ofthe cabinet should not be more than 11 per cent of the totalstrength of parliament.

The reported move to downsize the cabinet is alsoaimed at improving the image of the PPP, which has beenbattered by charges of corruption and inefficiency.

Amidst speculation about changes in the cabinet, thepowerful "troika" of President Zardari, Prime Minister Gilaniand army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani met at the presidencyyesterday, The News daily quoted its sources as saying.

Though the meeting was held ostensibly to discussthe security situation in the country, "that was notnecessarily the agenda topper item", the report said.

There was no official word on the meeting.

The top civil and military leadership also discussedPakistan''s crippling financial situation.

Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Sheikh and DefenceMinister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar too attended the meeting.

Sheikh briefed the meeting on the proposed ReformedGeneral Sales Tax regime and other conditions set by theInternational Monetary Fund as well as the consequences of notimplementing these conditions, the report said.

The daily reported that the meeting also took up thesensitive issue of the killing of three Pakistani citizens inan incident in Lahore involving US consulate employee RaymondDavis.

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