Nawaz Sharif to be sworn in as PM tomorrow with small cabinet

Nawaz Sharif will be sworn in for a record third term as Pakistan PM tomorrow after he is formally elected to the post and a very small cabinet comprising close aides is expected to take oath along with him.

Sharif's election in the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament is a foregone conclusion as his PML-N party has over 180 members in the 342-member strong House.

The election of the Prime Minister will be done by a division of the House.

63-year-old Sharif's nomination papers for the election to the post were submitted by PML-N leaders Ishaq Dar, Khwaja Asif and Abdul Qadir Baloch this afternoon.

Contesting the election against Sharif are Javed Hashmi of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf and the Makhdoom Amin Fahim of the Pakistan Peoples Party, which led the previous government. Their nomination papers were also filed today.

Sharif is expected to retain the crucial foreign affairs and defence portfolios with himself for his third stint as premier.

Though reports have suggested that less than 20 ministers will be sworn in along with Sharif on June 5, PML-N insiders told PTI that the cabinet could be limited to only 8 to 10 members and would comprise only close aides holding key portfolios.

"At a later stage, the Prime Minister could expand the cabinet after the (Islamic month) of Ramzan. In the initial phase, only top PML-N leaders and close aides of Mr Sharif will be accommodated in the cabinet," said a PML-N leader who did not want to be named.

Sources said Sharif is expected to keep his cabinet small for various reasons, including the new government's desire to cut spending and lobbying within the party for key portfolios.

"All groups within the party and influential leaders will have to be accommodated. Then there are leaders from Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces, where the PML-N is not in power, and they will also have to be taken care of," a source said.

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