With Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif deciding to retain Pakistan’s foreign affairs portfolio, former minister Sartaj Aziz will play a crucial role as his advisor in charting a way forward on issues like relations with India and the US.

The Cabinet Division has notified the appointment of the 84-year-old Aziz as Advisor to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs.

Aziz served as both finance and foreign minister in Sharif’s last term as premier in the late 1990s.

Over the past few weeks, Aziz has been advising Sharif on foreign policy issues and participating in meetings with foreign envoys and visiting leaders.

Sources in the PML-N said Aziz will play a major role in shaping the new government’s policy for relations with India and the US and for the endgame in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan will be the new government’s point man for dealing with law and order problems and a Taliban insurgency, while Power Minister Khwaja Asif has been entrusted the tasking of addressing a crippling energy crisis.

Khan, a hawk considered close to the military and a political heavyweight from the Rawalpindi region, was allocated the Interior Ministry hours after 25 members of Sharif’s council of ministers were sworn in yesterday.

Asif, a former banker, has been allocated the crucial water and power portfolio at a time when cities and towns across Pakistan are coping with power cuts of up to 20 hours a day.

According to a notification issued by the Cabinet Division, Zahid Hamid was allocated the law and justice portfolio, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi petroleum and natural resources, Abdul Qadir Baloch states and frontier regions, Ishaq Dar finance and revenue, Khwaja Saad Rafiq railways, Ghulam Murtaza Jatoi industries and production, Birjees Tahir Kashmir and Gilgit affairs, Pervez Rashid information and broadcasting, Kamran Michael ports and shipping and Sadaruddin Rashidi overseas Pakistanis affairs.

Among the ministers of state, Mian Baleegh-ur-Rehman was given the education portfolio, Khurram Dastagir Khan science and technology, Usman Ibraheem housing and works, Sheikh Aftab Ahmed parliamentary affairs, Jam Kamal Khan petroleum and natural resources, Abdul Hakeem Baloch railways, Anusha Rehman Khan information technology and telecom, Saira Afzal Tarar health sciences regulation and coordination and Pir Muhammad Amin-ul-Hasnat religious affairs.

Capt (retired) Shujaat Azeem has been named Advisor to the Prime Minister on Aviation.

PML-N leader Sanaullah Zehri and former envoy Tariq Fatemi have been appointed Special Assistants to the Prime Minister.