Page last updated at 11:12 GMT, Monday, 31 March 2008 12:12 UK

Pakistan cabinet members sworn in

New cabinet being sworn in
Many in the new cabinet are hostile to the president

President Musharraf of Pakistan has sworn in 24 members of a new cabinet, many of whom are political opponents eager to curtail his powers.

Twenty of those who took the oath on Monday are from either the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) or the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Correspondents say that the president remained grim-faced throughout the low-key ceremony in Islamabad.

The PPP and PML-N emerged as the two largest parties after the elections.


State television showed members of Nawaz Sharif's PML-N party wearing black arm bands to show their defiance of the president, who ousted Mr Sharif and his elected government in a military coup in 1999.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
PM Yousuf Raza Gillani (above)
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi
Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar

Party spokesman Siddiqul Farooq said that several new ministers served jail terms during President Musharraf's time in power - including the new Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gillani, who was sworn in last week.

"Thank you and congratulations," a stony-faced President Musharraf said before applauding briefly after the ministers followed him in repeating the oath of allegiance.

Correspondents say that the incoming four-party coalition is expected to add dozens more names to its cabinet in the coming weeks.

The BBC's M Ilyas Khan in Pakistan says that the PML-N has been pushing for the president to resign and is likely to keep up pressure on the PPP, the senior coalition partner, to pave the way for his impeachment by parliament.

'Mutilated shape'

Our correspondent says that the ceremony was low-key because many key party heads - such as Asif Zardari of the PPP and Nawaz Sharif of the PML-N - were not present at the ceremony.

Pakistan election results

The new government says that it wants to change the constitution to remove the president's power to dissolve parliament and dismiss the government.

The cabinet includes 11 ministers from the PPP and nine from the PML-N, two from the ethnic Pashtun Awami National Party, one from the hardline Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and one member from the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan.

It also includes two women, one each from the PPP and PML-N.

Ishaq Dar, the incoming finance minister, told the AFP news agency that the economic policies of the previous government would have to be reversed.

"They are handing over the economy in mutilated shape," he said on Sunday.

The World Bank last week warned that Pakistan faced an economic crisis unless it took urgent action to combat rising prices of foodstuffs, fuel and commodities.

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