Islamabad, Feb 13 (IANS) The decision to exclude former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi from the newly appointed Pakistan cabinet seems to have been taken at the last moment, a federal minister has revealed.
According to Minister for Railways Ghulam Ahmed Bilour, a chair for Qureshi and the oath had been kept in readiness, but were removed at the “very last moment”, Geo News reported Sunday.
“When I reached the President House, the oath and a chair for Shah Mahmood Qureshi were present with that of others but were removed moments before the oath taking ceremony,” he said.
A day after India and Pakistan decided to resume their stalled dialogue, Pakistan Qureshi was dropped from the pruned 22-member cabinet sworn in Friday by President Asif Ali Zardari.
Qureshi was among the ministers who were supposed to take oath but he missed out at the last minute following differences over a change of his portfolio, media reports said.
“Qureshi was being offered the ministry of water and power but he refused, considering it a demotion,” Geo TV reported, adding that a meeting with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani before the oath taking remained inconclusive.
Qureshi had been at the forefront of Pakistan’s foreign policy initiatives in the last three years at crucial junctures.
He was also set to spearhead the long-awaited resumption of bilateral talks with India by visiting New Delhi in July.
Qureshi was to travel to Washington this month to meet his US counterpart Hillary Clinton as part of an ongoing strategic dialogue between both countries.