Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has cancelled his visit to the United States on the instructions of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“In view of the prime minister’s programme to proceed to (the) United Kingdom for medical checkup, I have decided not to proceed to Washington to attend the Spring meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF),” Dar said in an official handout issued on Tuesday.
Officials said the prime minister has asked Dar to stay back to look after the political situation, as he would proceed to the UK on Wednesday for medical checkup.
However, PPP Senator Aitzaz Ahsan claimed that Nawaz was going to meet former president and PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari, a claim denied by PM House spokesman Mussadiq Malik.
The premier has come under pressure following the Panama Papers disclosure that his sons and a daughter created assets abroad through offshore companies.
An English-language daily reported on Tuesday that the ruling party was planning to make an in-house change in case the situation slipped out of control. The report claimed that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and Dar could be the likely replacements of Nawaz.
Dar is said to be the closest confidant of Prime Minister Nawaz, a fact also reflected by prime minister’s instruction for him to stay back in Pakistan.
The finance minister was scheduled to meet officials from the US Treasury Department, president of the World Bank and other leaders from the financial world. In his absence, State Bank of Pakistan’s governor, secretary finance and secretary economic affairs division will represent the country in these meetings.
Dar on Tuesday held a meeting with senior officials of the Finance and Economic Affairs Division (EAD) to review preparations for the upcoming World Bank and IMF Spring meetings.
The spring meetings will take place in Washington from April 14-17. The finance minister expressed satisfaction on the preparation for effective participation of the Pakistan delegation in the meetings. Dar has conveyed regrets for cancellation of his visit and bilateral meetings with the dignitaries he was scheduled to meet in Washington.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2016.