Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Wednesday withdrew the foreign affairs portfolio from Tariq Fatemi a day after appointing him as his special assistant on foreign affairs. According to a Cabinet Division notification, Fatemi will continue to serve as special assistant to the prime minister (SAPM) without portfolio and has been granted the additional status of minister of state. “In partial modification of this Division’s earlier notification of even number dated April 20, 2022, the prime minister, in terms of rule 4(6) of the Rules of Business, 1973, read with serial number 1A of Schedule V-A of the said Rules, has been please to appoint Syed Tariq Fatemi as ‘Special Assistant to the Prime Minister’ and grant him the status of minister of state,” the notification dated April 20 read.
Fatemi, a close aide to PML-N Quaid Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, was not initially made part of Shehbaz’s cabinet, as the party had divided on the selection of cabinet members and distribution of portfolios. Several closest aides to Nawaz, including Fatemi, were apparently sidelined. The next day, Fatemi was inducted in the cabinet as a special assistant and was assigned the portfolio of foreign affairs. But just 24 hours later, the premier withdrew that portfolio. Fatemi had served as SAPM on foreign affairs during the previous PML-N government under Nawaz but was removed in 2017 for his alleged role in ‘Dawn leaks’. The decision was reportedly taken after reservations by the quarters concerned as well as the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).