Dar returns home to get country out of economic woes

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Will take oath as Finance Minister tomorrow

Pakistan Muslim League-N senior leader and nominated Finance Minister Ishaq Dar reached Pakistan on Monday along with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif after an exile of more than five years.

He will be sworn in as a Finance Minister on Wednesday. The former minister landed at the Nur Khan Airbase in Chaklala, Rawalpindi.

Talking to reporters at the airbase, Dar said that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and the premier had tasked him to take over the portfolio of the finance minister.

“I will try my best to fulfill all the responsibilities. We will try to take out the country from the economic swap it is stuck in […] the way we did in 1998-1999 and 2013-2014.”

Dar further expressed hope that “we will now head in a positive direction”.

His return comes a day after PML-N leader Miftah Ismail tendered his resignation to senior party leaders in London. Subsequently, a statement released after the meeting confirmed that Nawaz Sharif and PM Shehbaz had nominated Dar as the finance minister.

A source quoted Nawaz as telling the participants that the party has “lost political capital” and that Dar should work to regain it.

Speaking to media before leaving for Pakistan with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Dar said he looked forward to taking oath as Pakistan’s finance minister and then doing his best to stabilise the struggling economy.

Ishaq Dar said he has his eyes set on putting Pakistan’s weakening economy back on track.

Accepting that he faces an uphill task in Pakistan, Dar told reporters that with God’s blessings he hopes to bring the economy back to the stage it was at when the PML-N was last in power. “The whirlpool Pakistan went through in the last four years is hidden from no one. Fortunately, I am returning to the same office that I left five years back. This is Allah’s blessing,” Dar said.

The PML-N leader said that Pakistan’s economy, under Nawaz, was on its way to becoming one of the strongest global economies, with low-interest rates, decade-high growth, a stable rupee, and a huge forex reserve. “I pray to Allah to guide me to bring Pakistan in the same position that we took Pakistan to under Nawaz Sharif when we were set to become the 18th biggest economy in the world,” he said.

“We had the highest growth in decades. We had the highest reserves and micro and macroeconomic indicators were great. There was stability. This will be my aim. To bring Pakistan’s [economy] back on track. The economy is constantly faltering and we will try to change its direction,” the PML-N leader added.

The senator-elect added that a “fake” case was concocted against him regarding the filing of taxes. “I have never failed to file taxes in my life but a fake case of non-filing of tax was registered against me,” the PML-N leader said.

Dar will take oath as a senator since despite being elected, he has been in self-exile in London for the last five years. His return comes after an accountability court last week suspended his outstanding arrest warrant and gave Dar a fortnight to appear before the court. Accountability court judge Mohammad Bashir suspended the arrest warrant issued on December 11, 2017 in the assets beyond means case.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan has reserved its verdict on a case seeking to declare Ishaq Dar’s Senate seat empty as the latter has not taken oath to his office.

A bench of Election Commission heard the case on Monday. Lawyer Salman Aslam Butt appeared before the commission on behalf of Dar. During hearing, ECP Balochistan member observed that the government had issued an ordinance that stipulated that if a member did not take oath to his Senate seat within 60 days, his seat would be deemed empty.

Lawyer Butt said that Dar’s notification regarding winning of Senate seat was issued on March 9 and it was suspended on 29th March, 2018. However, the success notification was restored again after the Supreme Court rejected the petition against the notification.

The lawyer argued that the ordinance did not apply on Ishaq Dar as he could not take oath to his seat when his success notification was already suspended.

The ECP Khyber Pakhtunkhwa member said the question before the bench was: whether Dar had been disqualified or not?

The lawyer contended that under Article 63-P, no one could be disqualified under a law introduced through an ordinance. He further told the bench that the ordinance had already been expired.

He petitioned the Election Commission to withdraw the notification regarding declaring Dar’s Senate seat empty. He argued that if a Senate member did not take oath for five years, even then he could not be disqualified.

The KP member questioned if Dar was disqualified even before the election amendment act, how he could become qualified now! He said the ECP could not interpret the law.

Salman Butt contended that the ordinance enacted by the PTI government was illegal. However, after hearing arguments, the ECP reserved the judgement on the case.

 

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