Dar's surprise elevation as deputy PM 'pre-planned', a move to 'compensate' Nawaz Sharif: media report

Dar is considered close to Nawaz Sharif due to matrimonial links between the two families, as his son is the son-in-law of the elder Sharif.
Last Updated : 29 April 2024, 10:30 IST
Last Updated : 29 April 2024, 10:30 IST

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Islamabad: The surprise elevation of Pakistan Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar — a close confidant of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif — as the deputy prime minister was in reality 'pre-planned' and is reportedly a move to 'compensate' the PML-N supremo for the loss of the finance portfolio, it emerged on Monday.

Dar, 73, a chartered accountant and a veteran politician from the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, was appointed as deputy prime minister by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday 'with immediate effect and until further orders'.

Shehbaz Sharif and Dar are currently in Saudi Arabia for the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) special meeting.

According to the Dawn newspaper, Dar's new appointment 'took many by surprise, but drew hardly any criticism from its allies'.

Dar being 'awarded' the 'rarely filled' slot of deputy prime minister has raised many questions, the report said.

The main talking point is that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif wants to have his “confidant” in a key position in the federal cabinet to 'compensate him for the loss of the finance portfolio', it said.

The move was also seen in the context of Nawaz Sharif taking over the reins of the ruling PML-N party as its president, a position he had lost following his conviction in the Panama Papers case, the report said.

Dar is considered close to Nawaz Sharif due to matrimonial links between the two families, as his son is the son-in-law of the elder Sharif.

An insider claimed that the move to appoint Dar as deputy prime minister was “pre-planned”, the report said. At the time of the formation of the coalition government, it was decided that Dar would become the Deputy Prime Minister.

However, according to a Geo News report, the appointment of a four-time finance minister as foreign minister suggested a ramped-up role for economics in the nation's diplomacy as the cash-strapped country tries to secure another International Monetary Fund (IMF) Deal and shore up external financing from foreign capitals.

Dar served as finance minister from 1998 to 1999, then from March to May 2008. He again led the finance ministry from 2013 to 2017 and then from 2022 to 2023. He has also served the country as minister for industry and investment from February 1997 to July 1997 as well as commerce from December 1997 to October 1999.

According to the Dawn report, when Nawaz Sharif was the prime minister, Dar was acting as the de facto deputy prime minister, heading dozens of government and parliamentary committees as its chairperson. Although there is no provision for a deputy prime minister in the Constitution, Dar is the second lawmaker to hold the post.

Chaudhry Parvez Elahi served as Deputy Prime Minister when the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was in power from June 25, 2012, to June 29, 2013. His role at that time was mostly symbolic as he was rewarded by then-President Asif Ali Zardari for supporting the PPP-led government.

Elahi is currently president of jailed former prime minister Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and is in jail due to allegations of corruption.

Interestingly, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the main ally of the PML-N-led government, did not raise any objection to Dar's new appointment. PPP Information Secretary Faisal Karim Kundi said his party had no objections to the appointment of Dar as the deputy premier. “It is the PM’s prerogative to appoint Dar as deputy prime minister,” he said, adding that the move was not meant as a ‘message’ to anyone.

Meanwhile, Khan's PTI on Monday reacted strongly to Dar's appointment as the deputy prime minister, saying 'Sharifs are distributing key national posts within the family'.

"The Sharif family is distributing important national posts among themselves," Special Assistant to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister For Information Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif said.

Stressing that the Constitution does not provision the post of deputy PM, the PTI leader censured the federal government for dishing out plum posts instead of resolving the issues faced by the people.

Reacting to Dar's appointment, Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat) President Ahmed Bilal Mehboob termed the PM Shehbaz Sharif-led government's move 'an extra-constitutional step that carries no substantial value'.

"This just indicates intra-party tensions and competition for influence. It is not an admirable step because, at this serious juncture of our national life and the lowest point of our economic condition, we should be focusing on substantive issues rather than taking trivial and inconsequential decisions," The News reported quoting Mehboob.

Published 29 April 2024, 10:30 IST

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