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Ishaq Dar’s appointment as Deputy Prime Minister

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Dar’s elevation gives birth to speculation

Zaheer Abbasi | Ali Hussain | Nuzhat Nazar
April 30, 2024

ISLAMABAD: The timing of Ishaq Dar’s appointment as deputy prime minister with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in Riyadh and the party supremo Nawaz Sharif in China sparked speculation in the federal capital that the decision had the necessary approval from all stakeholders.

According to high level sources, the establishment indicated it would not oppose the appointment of Dar as deputy prime minister, provided he refrains from meddling in economic affairs. With the Nawaz Sharif group already relegated to the side-lines, any interference could diminish their political relevance further.

The establishment is keen to avoid further political experimentation especially with respect to the economy, sources added.

The appointment of Ishaq Dar as deputy prime minister is seen as a move by party chief Nawaz Sharif to compensate him for the loss of the finance portfolio.

Dar, known for his close association with Nawaz Sharif, previously served as the de facto deputy prime minister during Sharif’s tenure as prime minister, overseeing numerous government and parliamentary committees. Despite the absence of a constitutional provision for the position, Dar becomes the fourth individual to hold the post following Chaudhry Parvez Elahi’s appointment by the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) in June 2012 to March 2013, albeit with a largely ceremonial role.

Previously the position of deputy prime minister was held by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1971, who remained in the role for a brief period of 13 days, and Nusrat Bhutto from March 1989 to August 1990.

Political analysts view Dar’s appointment of deputy prime minister as indicative of intra-party tensions. Initially considered for the position of Senate chairman after being denied the finance ministry, Dar’s nomination was eventually withdrawn, reportedly due to pressure from the PPP adamant to allot the position to its own party loyalist Gailani in return for supporting Shehbaz Sharif as the leader of the house.

A senior PML-N leader on condition of anonymity told Business Recorder that the decision to appoint Dar as the deputy prime minister was on the cards when Mohammad Aurangzeb was appointed as the finance minister.

Dar, who failed to get the Ministry of Finance in the current federal cabinet following strong resistance from the establishment, was upset with the move, said another PML-N source.

He further contended that Dar has been given the portfolio of foreign minister ‘temporarily’, as Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif wants PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as the foreign minister, but PPP refused to take any portfolio in the cabinet till the next phase of cabinet expansion.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024
 
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