ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his elder brother, three-time former premier Nawaz Sharif on Sunday nominated Ishaq Dar as the country’s new finance minister, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb confirmed.
Dar was considered one of the most influential people in Sharif’s cabinet, formed after a 2013 general election, but he left for the UK in October 2017 to seek medical treatment after Sharif was disqualified by the Supreme Court for not declaring a small source of income. The court ordered an investigation into Sharif, his children and Dar, who is also Sharif’s former accountant.
Dar himself was also disqualified from office by the Supreme Court in July 2017. Months later, after he left for London, he was charged in absentia by an anti-corruption court in Pakistan for amassing wealth beyond known sources of income. The former finance tzar says the case is politically motivated.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Saturday announced Dar would return to Pakistan next week.
“Quaid (leader) Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif have nominated Senator Ishaq Dar for the post of finance minister,” Aurangzeb said in a statement.
The decision was taken in a meeting chaired by Nawaz Sharif in London. Senior PML-N leaders, including PM Sharif, Finance Minister Miftah Ismail, Aurangzeb, Dar, Malik Ahmad Khan and Ahad Cheema were part of the huddle.
Participants of the meeting discussed Pakistan’s political situation. Ismail, during the meeting, tendered his resignation to Nawaz Sharif.
“The [finance] ministry was entrusted to me by you, it was you who gave it to me,” Ismail was quoted as saying by the information minister. “I performed to the best of my abilities for the past four months and remained loyal to my party and the country,” he added.
Nawaz Sharif praised Ismail for fulfilling his responsibilities as finance minister “during the most difficult times”, said Aurangzeb.
An accountability court on Friday suspended Dar’s permanent arrest orders and prevented the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) from arresting him upon his arrival to Pakistan.
During his last term as finance minister from 2013 to 2017, Dar was initially lauded for steering Pakistan out of a balance of payments crisis and returning the nuclear-armed country toward a higher growth trajectory.
But he also faced criticism for his refusal to allow the rupee to weaken to ease macroeconomic pressures, and is accused of eroding the central bank’s independence.
Reports that Dar will return to Pakistan since June had raised concerns about whether he would replace Ismail, who negotiated the resumption of a stalled $6 billion IMF bailout program last month.