Musharraf Off To Northern Areas With 18 Ministers In Tow
2 July 2006
The Daily Times
Islamabad: President General Pervez Musharraf has selected 18 federal ministers to fly with him on a C-130 plane for a two-day trip to the Northern Areas starting on Monday. A Cabinet Division official confirmed that this is the first time such a large number of federal ministers would be flying with Gen Musharraf inside Pakistan. Prime Minister's Advisor on Finance Salman Shah and Finance Secretary Fazal Agha have also been told to accompany the president on his trip starting at 8am on Monday morning from Chaklala airport in Rawalpindi. PML Secretary General Mushahid Hussain Syed will also accompany the president. The Cabinet Division source said that the invitation to join the president didn't get to the ministers until Saturday afternoon, and many of them were speculating as to the 'real purpose' of their two-day visit to the Northern Areas. The source said the entourage would visit the Pakistan-China border, attend public addresses by the president and meet the notables of the area. The ministers have been informed by the presidency that in case of bad whether on Monday, the visit would be rescheduled and not cancelled. The source said Minister of State Omar Ayub Khan is not among the selected ministers, which was surprising considering the rest of Musharraf's financial team was being flown to the Northern Areas. Another notable omission was Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, who has accompanied the president on several trips inside and outside Pakistan. Sources said the president selected the 18 ministers after going through a list of all 72 members of the federal cabinet. Planning and Development Deputy Chairman Dr Akram Sheikh, the director general of the Central Board of Revenue and other bureaucrats will also accompany the president. The federal ministers include Minister for Women's Development Sumaira Malik, Minister for Special Education Zubaida Jalal, Minister for Tourism Nilofar Bakhtiar, Minister for Kashmir and Northern Area Major (r) Tahir Iqbal, Population Welfare Minister Chaudhry Shahbaz Hussain, Minister for Privatisation Zahid Hamid, Information Minister Mohammad Ali Durrani, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Dr Sher Afgan Niazi, Provincial Affairs Minister Salim Saifullah, Petroleum Minister Amanullah Jadon, Communication Minister Shamim Saddiqi and Agriculture Minister Sikandar Bosan.