- Associated Press - Monday, August 20, 2018

ISLAMABAD (AP) - Pakistan’s 21-member Cabinet was sworn in Monday, a day after Prime Minister Imran Khan pledged to cut government spending, end corruption and repatriate public funds.

President Mamnoon Hussain administered the oath of office to 16 federal ministers in Islamabad. Separately, Khan has also appointed five advisers to his Cabinet.

Khan, whose populist party won most parliament seats in the July 25 elections but fell short of a majority, forcing it to form a coalition, took the oath of office on Saturday as Pakistan’s 22nd premier. He campaigned on promises of rooting out endemic corruption and breaking powerful landowners’ monopoly on political power.

“I want to see Pakistan a great country” with social services for the poor, Khan said.

Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, said after taking his oath of office that he is aware of foreign policy challenges ahead. Foreign policy, he said, will be revised and set on the correct path, in the “interest of Pakistan.”

Qureshi said he would reach out to counterparts in the region and focus on key issues of critical importance to Pakistan.

Pakistan needs a peaceful and stabilized Afghanistan; our future is linked to peace in Afghanistan” Qureshi said. He said he wants to visit Kabul soon with a message that “we have to help and support each other and have to look for solutions of each other’s problems.”

Both neighboring India and Pakistan are nuclear powers and cannot afford any adventure, he said. “We have long standing, complex problems and have no option but to start a dialogue.”

He welcomed that Indian Prime Minister Modi in a congratulatory message to Khan expressed desire for talks.

As for ties with the United States, Qureshi said Pakistan wants bilateral relations based on respect and trust.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to make a stop in Islamabad on his way to India and Afghanistan in the first week of September.

“There is a trust deficit in our relations from both sides and we have to bridge it” Qureshi said of U.S. and Pakistan. “In meetings with the U.S. secretary of state, I will boldly apprise him of our aspirations.”

Also Monday, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said the government is placing former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz on a travel ban list. Sharif is appealing a 10-year prison sentence for corruption. Hi daughter, who was sentenced to seven years by the same anti-graft tribunal, is also appealing her sentence.

Sharif was ousted by the Supreme Court last summer on corruption-related charges stemming from the so-called leaked papers from a Panama law firm. He is facing several separate trials.

Chaudhry said that in line with Khan’s austerity drive, the government will auction off 88 luxury vehicles from the premier’s residence used for protocol.


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