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For First Time in 20 Years, Pakistan Has a Hindu Cabinet Minister

This is Darshan Lal’s second stint in the National Assembly, Pakistan’s Lower House, after being elected in 2013 on a PML-N ticket under reservation for minorities.

News18.com

Updated:August 5, 2017, 12:23 PM IST
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For First Time in 20 Years, Pakistan Has a Hindu Cabinet Minister
Interim Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi formed his cabinet this week and inducted Darshal Lal into it. (Getty Images)
New Delhi: Pakistan got a Hindu minister for the time in two decades when interim prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi formed his cabinet this week. Darshal Lal, 65, will reportedly head coordination between the four provinces of Pakistan.

This is Lal’s second stint in the National Assembly, Pakistan’s Lower House, after being elected in 2013 on a PML-N ticket under reservation for minorities.

According to reports, Lal used to practice medicine in Ghotki district of Sindh province.

Lal is now part of the cabinet which was filled with allies of toppled leader Nawaz Sharif after a reshuffle that appears aimed at bolstering support ahead of general elections due in mid-2018.

Ishaq Dar, a powerful finance minister, returned in the same role, despite a criminal investigation ordered against him by the Pakistan’s supreme court.

Another staunch Sharif ally, Khawaja Asif, was made the foreign minister after having simultaneously run the ministries of defence and power.

The cabinet has almost doubled in size to 47 members. "It's a massive cabinet," Reuters quoted Pakistani writer and analyst Zahid Hussain as saying. "It shows that it's all about the next election."

But no decision appears to have yet been made by the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party over whether Abbasi will stay as premier or step down after a brief period to make way for Sharif's brother Shehbaz, as outlined previously.

Nawaz Sharif resigned last week after the supreme court disqualified him for not declaring a source of income he denies receiving. But he retains control of PML-N and put forward Abbasi as temporary prime minister until Shehbaz becomes eligible to take over by winning a parliamentary by-election.
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