ISLAMABAD/ LAHORE ':
Finance Minister Miftah Ismail has stepped down from his post as senior PML-N leader Ishaq Dar is all set to become the country's new finance czar.
The development came on Sunday after an important PML-N meeting was held under the chairmanship of party supremo and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in London.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Miftah, Ishaq Dar and Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan attended the huddle.
In the meeting, the overall political situation of the country was discussed in detail.
Miftah submitted his resignation to the PML-N supreme leader, saying the ministry was entrusted to him by the party.
“I worked to the best of my ability for four months, and remained loyal to the party and the country,” a PML-N statement quoted Miftah as saying during the meeting.
Nawaz appreciated the efforts made by Miftah for carrying out the responsibilities under “tough economic challenges”.
During the huddle, PM Shehbaz and party supremo Nawaz nominated Dar as the new finance minister of the country.
The participants of the meeting were of the view that the incumbent government had to “put out the fire of economic disaster” caused by the previous PTI-led regime.
“I have seen how hard you [Miftah] have worked day and night to save Pakistan from default and to avert the economic disaster created by Imran Khan,” tweeted the information minister later in the day.
“You deserve appreciation from the entire nation and especially [from] PML-N,” she added.
Federal Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal was also all praise for Miftah’s services.
“You [Miftah] served under most challenging circumstances. You saved default at the cost of personal reputation. Your services will be remembered,” he tweeted.
Dar, a senator-elect, had gone to the UK in October 2017 while he was standing trial in a corruption reference.
The two main targets given to Dar by PML-N supremo Nawaz are to bring down inflation and decrease the dollar-rupee parity, a source close to the Sharif family told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity.
The source said Dar would draw on his vast experience from his previous stints and try to bring market forces under control.
He added that the party needed a finance czar of Dar’s credentials, but some legal barriers had to be overcome first.
The source said Miftah too had made tall claims before the leadership of being capable of driving the country out of the seemingly inextricable maze the party had found the country’s economy in.
Miftah, in view of these pledges, had sought permission from Nawaz to raise fuel prices once, assuring him that a one-time increase would placate the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) concerns.
However, the source shared, Miftah fell short on all his promises and continued giving excuses and requested more time to fix the financial turmoil.
“Not that fixing the economy was an easy task by any means, but what frustrated the party leadership was the absence of any signs of a better tomorrow,” he added.
The source said Dar’s own image that was sullied over the years, and the party’s future, all was depending on his performance.
He added that to his knowledge, Dar would first take oath of his Senate seat and then be sworn in as the finance minister.
“Whatever comes first, Dar becoming a senator or a finance minister is irrelevant at this point, as he has already started preparing for the mammoth task at hand,” he said.
On his return, Dar would take up the responsibility with or without officially taking charge of the office.
About Dar’s return, the source said that the senior PML-N leader should return on a commercial flight instead of flying with the premier as it would help the people recall how he fled the country on a prime minister’s plane while standing a trial.
In 2017, ex-premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had approved Dar’s ‘medical leave’ when he had abruptly left for London.
Dar stayed in the UK since then and is returning after almost five years along with PM Shehbaz on Monday (today) after being nominated as the new financial wizard.
The information minister said Dar was likely to take oath on Tuesday but refrained herself from confirming that.
Marriyum added that she only knew that Dar was returning with the premier on Monday.
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