Nawaz Sharif picks finance minister as Karachi stocks hit high

By AFP
Published: May 13, 2013

File photo of Nawaz Sharif with Ishaq Dar. PHOTO: PPI

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan election-winner Nawaz Sharif has picked a veteran finance minister to serve in his cabinet as Karachi stocks hit an all-time high Monday over hopes his pro-business agenda can revive the economy.

Sharif, who has sought to present himself as a pragmatist who can do business with the United States and improve relations with India, won a resounding victory in Saturday’s landmark polls.

In an astonishing comeback 14 years after he was ousted by a military coup and briefly jailed, his centre-right Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) is projected to win 130 of the 272 directly elected seats in the national assembly.

The outgoing Pakistan People’s Party suffered a crushing defeat, collapsing from 125 to 33 seats, according to newspaper projections, but enough to emerge as the second largest party and likely to go into opposition.

Cricket star Imran Khan, who promised a “tsunami” propelling him into power, appeared to have slipped into third place on 29 seats – still an astonishing achievement for a party which previously won only one seat in 2002.

Sharif will likely need only the estimated 27 independents and his proportion of seats reserved for women and minorities, to secure a majority in the first democratic transition in a country accustomed to long periods of military rule.

US President Barack Obama said Washington was ready to work with Islamabad “as equal partners” and welcomed the transition. India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he hoped to chart “a new course” in relations.

Sharif’s biggest challenges are likely to be fixing the shattered economy, an appalling energy crisis and tackling Islamist militancy.

PML-N spokesman Siddiqul Farooq told AFP the party had secured a “comfortable majority” at the national level and a “two-thirds majority” in Punjab province, where Sharif’s younger brother Shahbaz would return as chief minister.

Ishaq Dar, who served as finance minister in Sharif’s second administration and again briefly in 2008, would return to the job, the spokesman said.

Dar had “all the facts and figures at his fingertips” and will in June present the budget for the next financial year starting on July 1, Farooq said.

In Karachi the benchmark index of top 100 shares rose 1.6 percent to 20,232 points in early trade, surpassing the 20,000 mark for the first time as the election results defied analysts’ predictions of a weak parliament.

Investors are hopeful of an economic revival under Sharif, whose privatisation policies earned him a good reputation among traders and industrialists during his two previous tenures in the 1990s.

“We have credibility on the economic front, the unprecedented surge in the stock market today is proof,” the PML-N spokesman said.

But writing in English-language newspaper The News, analyst and commentator Mosharraf Zaidi expressed disappointment in the choice of Dar, despite calling him “widely respected and highly competent”.

“If the PML-N goes with the tried and tested, it will be sending the wrong signal to young Pakistanis, that their mocking of the PML-N as ‘Purana (old) Pakistan’ is not off the mark,” he wrote.

Khan electrified the campaign with his calls for a new Pakistan, galvanising the youth and urban middle class in particular with promises to end corruption, introduce tax reform and stand up to the Americans.

His Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) looks likely to form a provincial government in the Taliban-hit northwest, but Khan says he will go into opposition at the national level.

“God willing, we will demonstrate the best opposition in the assembly. The strongest power of a democracy is a strong opposition, which was not there in Pakistan unfortunately for the past 10 years,” he said Sunday.

In a televised statement from the hospital bed where he is laid up with a fractured spine following a fall at a rally, he also alleged vote-rigging.

The election commission is expected to finalise the results Monday night. Sharif will then have up to three weeks to prepare his government before the president summons the national assembly and new MPs are sworn in.

Sharif will then be confirmed as leader of the house and as prime minister, allowing him formally to appoint his cabinet.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • abcde
    May 13, 2013 - 1:41PM

    disagree with musharraf zaidi, this guy was an architect of the 9th NFC award, by all accounts a stellar achievement. whats more important, satisfying the youth by picking a new guy, or getting things done, off and running from day 1?

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  • Free Man
    May 13, 2013 - 1:44PM

    bad luck Pakistan….these people will rule Pakistan. God mercy on Pakistan

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  • Jantar Manstar
    May 13, 2013 - 1:54PM

    Family politics… Nawaz Sharif lets his daughter’s inlaws manage the Finance of the country. Look on the bright side, if Mr. Dar can make Nawaz Sharif billions, he can do the same for Pakistan.

    I love Family Politics.

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  • misbah
    May 13, 2013 - 1:57PM

    i want to know from the readers who live in punjab how good his government was during the last five years? cant really believe everything the media says and i could do well with a little optimism

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  • NS
    May 13, 2013 - 1:59PM

    NS kindly reveal the Foreign Minister also..

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  • FACT
    May 13, 2013 - 2:10PM

    Ishaq Dar is one of the best choices made by Nawaz Sharif. After coaliation split between Nawaz and Zardari, the later did his best to keep Dar as Finance Minister but did not work and economy paid for it. A brilliant start by Nawaz, All the best.

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  • PakArmySoldier
    May 13, 2013 - 2:47PM

    Ishaq Dar doesn’t even have a degree in economics. This is insanity.

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  • Saad
    May 13, 2013 - 3:00PM

    Now he will freeze the accounts.

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  • fas4u
    May 13, 2013 - 3:23PM

    @PakArmySoldier: Ishaq Dar is a Fellow Chartered Accountant (FCA).

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  • Salman
    May 13, 2013 - 3:29PM

    Daughter’s Father in Law – Finance Minister – Worst decision he could make. What would he do if he knows that Ishaq Dar did something wrong and needs to resign? Risk daughter’s marriage? I don’t think so. They are much better candidates but i guess the FAMILY has some other agenda.

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  • Hasan
    May 13, 2013 - 3:33PM

    Why am I not surprised to see Nawaz Shari’s Samdhi (Daughter’s in-law’s) set to be appointed as Finance Minister. But Nevertheless, as a Chartered Accountact, he’ll be much more capable for the job, but integrity remains a BIG QUESTIONMARK????

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  • imran
    May 13, 2013 - 4:01PM

    Ishaq Dar is the best avaliable choice for Nawaz Shareef , as he is an experenced chartered accountant , remember last 5 years PPPP goverment was borrowing fainace minister from other parties , there is no harm if he is a relative , Pakistan need good people to govern

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  • Taimoor
    May 13, 2013 - 4:28PM

    Not this guy again !!!!! Dr. Surtaj Aziz is the right guy …. he is a “guru” in this field.

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  • doom
    May 13, 2013 - 4:39PM

    @PakArmySoldier:
    If PTI had won their pick would be Asad Umar or maybe Jahangeer Tareen? No economics degrees there either. MBAs and entrepreneurs. Dar is a CA and has previous experience in the job. Don’t just criticize for the sake of criticizing now.

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  • slim_shady
    May 13, 2013 - 5:00PM

    a very good choice, the guy is a proven good finance minister, so i think PMLN made the right choice to choose him rather than making a new try on someone else. I hope he takes pakistan economy out of crisis and business thrives under PMLN government. There is a reason why business community in pakistan has always supported PMLN. Good luck sir

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  • Raheel
    May 13, 2013 - 5:45PM

    O my Lord! Is he not the same guy who was responsible for reducing the credit rating of Pakistan and also causing panic among international investors to run away from Pakistan by telling international media on foreign visits that Pakistan is Bankrupt.

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  • Abdul Basit Imtiaz
    May 13, 2013 - 6:05PM

    Our country has, at the moment, a frail economy. A young person, though would be vibrant and enthusiastic, would lack the experience. At this moment for our economy, experience is the only thing which can keep our economy from falling of the cliff to devastation.

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  • Tahir Ahmed
    May 13, 2013 - 6:09PM

    @misbah:
    well his government can’t be termed as ideal but still much better than the ones in other provinces..

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  • Pakistani
    May 14, 2013 - 9:38AM

    @Misbah: I shifted from karachi to lahore last year, what i found is that, punjab especially lahore is much much better than other parts of country. Sometimes, you feel that you are in some foreign country or welfare state.

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  • Well Wisher
    May 14, 2013 - 9:43AM

    Whatever happened to Sartaj Aziz who performed well as finance minister (1993)? I believe he is head and shoulders above Ishaq Dar. During his tenure, the country was well on its way to substitue foreign trade in place of foreign aid and the economy was doing well, particularly in 1992. Unlike Mahboobul Haq, Sartaj Aziz is an unappreciated economic expert.

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