Dar likely to replace Miftah as FM following return next week

— Rana Sanaullah confirms Ishaq Dar will return to Pakistan next week

— Nawaz speaks to Zardari, Fazl, takes both on board for strong action against PTI long march

ISLAMABAD: Former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar is set to return back to Pakistan and take up the charge of Finance Ministry which the ruling government believes has been messed with by outgoing finance minister Miftah Ismail.

Well-placed sources have told Pakistan Today that the change of guard at finance ministry was decided by PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif during his meeting with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif held at his London residence.

The meeting, also attended by Ishaq Dar, also decided to take immediate but concrete measures to tackle Imran Khan’s planned long march, end political uncertainty and appoint Ishaq Dar as finance minister.

Separately, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah also confirmed that PML-N’s former minister Ishaq Dar, an absconder in NAB case, would return to the county next week and would facilitate the government’s economic team.

Addressing a news conference in Lahore, Sanaullah said Dar would be able to help Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif manage the country’s economic affairs “better”.

For weeks, there has been speculation that incumbent Finance Minister Miftah Ismail would be replaced by Dar, with certain top members of the PML-N — like Maryam Nawaz and Javed Latif — on several occasions publicly attacking and disowning his policies, in particular, the inevitable reversal of the costly fuel subsidy introduced by the previous PTI government.

The sources said that Nawaz Sharif believes that Miftah had mishandled the affairs of finance ministry which had cost the country and the party dearly. The sources said that Sharif believed that Dar had the relevant skills and ability not only to handle the ministry with prudence but also he has a plan to give relief to the masses in the near future.

The sources said that Nawaz Sharif wants to give relief to the public and go into the next elections with a better plan after giving a respite to the general public which is suffering badly at hands of skyrocketing inflation and price hike. Pakistan has recently touched highest inflation rate in past five decades and this has hurt the image of the ruling party badly among the public at large.

The sources said that Nawaz Sharif also decided not to bow to the threats of Imran Khan and rather take strong actions to end political crisis in the country.

The sources said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif met with PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and discussed a future strategy. According to the decisions reached during the meeting, Ishaq Dar will return to Pakistan and assume charge as the finance minister most probably on Tuesday while the current Finance Minister Miftah Ismail will also continue to be a part of the government. Miftah might be given another portfolio.

PM Shehbaz is set to leave for Pakistan on Sunday and it’s not clear yet whether Dar will fly with the premier or later. The source said that Nawaz had not been happy with the economic policies of Miftah and had called for a change in the direction of economic policies.

Nawaz, according to the source, is worried that the rise in prices of commodities had directly affected ordinary people which has impacted the support base of PML-N. Nawaz, during the meeting, also spoke to Zardari and Maulana Fazlur Rehman and decided to take stringent measures against Imran Khan and also bring in some new faces to help stabilise the political situation.

The sources said that the trio also decided to give tough time to Imran Khan and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will take other allied parties into confidence on the decisions taken after his return to Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Islamabad Capital Territory police have finalised a strategy to deal with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) possible long march towards Islamabad to put pressure on the government for fresh elections in the country.

A high-level meeting was held in Islamabad on directions of Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah to deal with PTI’s planned long march towards the federal capital. The meeting was chaired by IG Islamabad Akbar Nasir and Commandant FC Salahuddin Mehsud.

All DIGs, AIGs, SSPs and other senior officials attended the meeting and a detailed briefing was given to counter sit-in call.

The meeting reviewed the overall law and order situation and decided to ensure effective security measures in the city besides enhancing vigilance.

It was decided that any law-and-order situation in Islamabad would be dealt with by using modern techniques. Commandant FC assured that required the FC personnel would be provided to deal with the sit-in and a regular plan had been prepared in this regard.

IGP Islamabad said that all the officers should be ready at all times to deal with the law-and-order situation in the wake of an upcoming protest march.

Mian Abrar
The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He tweets as @mian_abrar and also can be reached at [email protected]

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