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Musharraf Appoints Caretaker Prime Minister and Cabinet

Pervez Musharraf appointed Muhammad Mian Soomro, a loyalist and chairman of the Senate, as caretaker prime minister. Soomro, as Senate chairman, was in line to succeed Musharraf as president. In that capacity, he is now replaced by Chaudhry Amir Hussain. GEO reports that Salman Shah, an economic adviser to former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, will be minister of finance — an uncontroversial appointment.

The choice of Salman Taseer as minister of commerce is, however, surprising. Taseer, a prominent Pakistani businessman, owns WorldCall, the Daily Times (pictured above), and the Business Plus channel (which signed on to Musharraf’s media code of conduct). He is also a former PPP politician and author of a favorable biography of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Benazir’s father.

His paper’s editorials have consistently been in favor of a Bhutto-Musharraf deal. It is unclear as to whether Taseer’s appointment is a confidence building measure with Bhutto.

Others in the 15-member cabinet include: Nisar Memon, information minister; retired Lt. Gen. Hamid Nawaz, interior minister; and Inam ul Haq, foreign minister. The familiar faces make this cabinet, in many senses, a return to Musharraf’s 2002-3 cabinet.

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Arif Rafiq, a Washington, DC-based consultant on Middle East and South Asian political and security issues. [About]

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