Nov 09 - 15, 1996

Caretaker prime minister Malik Meraj Khalid is a highly respected national figure, having to his credit a vast experience of politics and social work. He was founder member of the PPP. He was president of the Punjab People's Party from 1974 to 1977 and a member of the central executive committee. He relentlessly worked for the restoration of democracy and suffered imprisonment.

A selfless person, he has been a federal minister, chief minister of the Punjab, speaker of the National Assembly twice and was rector of the International Islamic University before taking over as caretaker prime minister.

He began his political career with his first election as member of the West Pakistan assembly in 1965 as a independent candidate. He took active part in social welfare work as a member of the permanent international committee of International Conference of Social Work. He is also the founder secretary-general of the Pakistan Organization for Afro-Asian People's Solidarity.

He was appointed as federal minister and later the chief minister of the Punjab. In 1974, he was appointed, once again as the federal minister for law and parliamentary affairs and later as the federal minister for local government, rural development and social welfare.

In 1972, he led Pakistan delegation to the second Islamic Foreign Ministers' Conference held at Jeddah. In 1973, he led the Pakistan delegation to the United Nations General Assembly.

Malik Meraj Khalid has held posts in a number of social welfare institutions and has established a number of rural community high schools in his area. He was president of Pakistan Olympic Association for four years and was also chief of the Pakistan contingent to World Olympics in 1976 held at Montreal, Canada.

He organised the panchayat movement in Pakistan in the early fifties and also developed the concept of local government at grossroots level. Malik Meraj Khalid has been a keen sportsman. As a college student he was university champion in various fields of sports and organised a number of sports and cultural activities.

A learned and softspoken person of humble nature he has been rector of the International Islamic University till he was nominated as caretaker prime minister. For the last about one year he has been publicly criticising the PPP government for rampant corruption in its ranks.

The federal cabinet

Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Sahibzada Yaqoob Ali Khan who has been given the portfolio of foreign affairs has, in the past, twice served in this capacity first during Gen. Zia-ul-Haq's regime and for the second time in Benazir's first tenure in 1988-90. He has also served as Pakistan's ambassador in various countries including the United States.

Interior minister Ummar Afridi is a retired bureaucrat hailing from district Kohat in NWFP. He has served as chief secretary Frontier Province, chief commissioner Islamabad and as principal secretary to former president Ghulam Ishaq Khan and for some time to president Farooq Leghari.

Defence and establishment minister, Shahid Hamid is a prominent lawyer of Lahore. He is the son of well known PPP leader Brig. (Rtd) Hamid Nawaz. He represented president Farooq Leghari in the Supreme Court in the reference against former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

Irshad Ahmad Haqqani who has been given the portfolio of information is a well known journalist with over 40 years standing in the profession. He was resident editor of daily Jang, Lahore. His column "Harf-e-Tamanna" — was a widely read one. He was known as a confidant of the president as was also reflected in his writings, mostly supporting Farooq Leghari in the president-P{M tussle.

Minister for education, Begum Abida Hussain hails from a well known political family of Jhang. She was an active member of PML(N) and has also served as Pakistan ambassador in the United States during Nawaz Sharif government. Her husband Fakhar Imam, a prominent leader of PML(N) has also served as education minister and speaker of the National Assembly.

Minister for food and agriculture, Senator Shafqat Mahmud, is also a former bureaucrat. He resigned government service as deputy commissioner and joined Pakistan People's Party. He was a member of the central executive committee of PPP and was elected Senator on PPP ticket.

Minister for industries and production Sadiq Awan is a businessman and owner of a leading courier service of Pakistan. His name came into limelight last year as the highest tax payer in the country.

Minister for petroleum and natural resources, Javed Jabbar comes from the advertising profession. He joined PPP in 1988 and served as information minister in the first Benazir government during 1988-90. Recently, he filed a petition in the Supreme Court against the former federal government for misusing the electronic media.

Commerce Minister Dr. Zubair is a former employee of IMF and a close relative of president Farooq Leghari and NWFP chief minister Aftab Sherpao. He is a highly qualified economist who left IMF to start his own consultancy business in Pakistan. Dr. Khan, author of a number of books on economy has been delivering lectures at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). He has some experience of the commerce ministry, having worked there as consultant on Pak-India trade.