The government is likely to dissolve the federal cabinet on Friday to meet a 45-day deadline given by the Pakistan Muslim League-N to implement its reforms agenda aimed at revival of the economy and austerity, sources told on Wednesday.
They said Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza will prorogue the current National Assembly session on Friday and the cabinet would be dissolved in the evening.
Sources in the Pakistan People`s Party said President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had given the final nod to the cabinet`s `rightsizing` during a meeting of the party`s core committee held at the presidency on Tuesday night.
They said the prime minister was waiting for proroguing of the NA session so that parliamentarians left the federal capital and thus were unable to start lobbying for inclusion in a new line-up.
Talking to newsmen after the fourth round of talks with the PPP, PML-N Senator Ishaq Dar also hinted at an early dissolution of the cabinet when he refused to give a direct reply to a question.
“I don`t want to pre-empt the government`s decision on cabinet rightsizing.”
The sources said that the plan to dissolve the cabinet had been finalised in a meeting of the core committee on Jan 23, but it was deferred after Law Minister Babar Awan made a premature disclosure of the plan while talking to journalists.
The PML-N had given a deadline to the government to implement its reforms agenda before Feb 23, calling for reduction in the cabinet size, to revive ailing economy and cut government expenses.
Old faces return
It has been learnt that mostly there would be old faces in the new cabinet and the return of disgruntled Muttahida Qaumi Movement`s ministers is also expected.
A PPP source said his party`s leader from Balochistan, Sardar Lashkar Raisani, was also offered a ministry but he refused to accept it, apparently because of some reservations over the Aghaz Haqooq-i-Balochistan package.
Five ministries have already been handed over to the provinces and another five — health, education, environment, women development and culture — will be given to them this month.
Eight more ministries will either be devolved to the provinces in the third phase or merged with other divisions.
Prime Minister Gilani had recently said that changes and cuts in the federal cabinet would take place as per the 18th Amendment, but the decision would be implemented after consulting members the PPP and its coalition partners.