LONDON: Ishaq Dar has taken oath as a senator paving the way for him to become the new finance minister, replacing Miftah Ismail whose fate was sealed at three crucial meetings held at a central London apartment.
While Dar took oath as a senator in Islamabad, Miftah remains in London with his wife.
The first meeting on replacing Miftah was held before Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif left for New York from London. The meeting was held between PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, the PM and Dar with efforts made to keep the location of these meetings secret.
Unlike all previous meetings, the first of the three meetings on this issue was not held at Hasan Nawaz Sharif’s office but at Jawad Sohrab Malik’s apartment, a businessman from Islamabad.
The second meeting was held on Saturday between the Sharif brothers, Dar and a few others at the same apartment. It was initially reported that the meeting was being held at a secret location but the curtains and furniture of the apartment indicated that the meeting was not held at the Avenfield flats, Ishaq Dar’s house, or Hasan Nawaz’s office.
Media persons ran to several locations to track the movements of PML-N leaders on Saturday when pictures of Nawaz and PM Shehbaz whispering into each other’s ears emerged. A second picture showed a wider room featuring Dar in the frame with the two brothers at an upscale building.
It soon emerged that the meeting was held at Malik’s apartment which is located in an upscale block of flats in central London’s expensive area — mostly populated by Arabs from the Middle East and Russians.
The third and last meeting took place on Sunday at the same apartment and was attended by Miftah, Marriyum Aurangzeb, and Malik Ahmed Khan. It was decided during this meeting that Dar will accompany the PM on his plane and take oath on Tuesday as the finance minister.
Malik happens to be the nephew of Mohammad Mian Soomro, the former caretaker prime minister, chairman senate, and privatisation minister in the PTI government. He has several business interests in the Middle East, Pakistan, and the UK. The businessman is known to have connections in the power corridors of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.
On Monday morning, Dar left with the PM saying that he had his eyes set on putting Pakistan’s weakening economy back on track and within hours, he took oath as a senator.
Meanwhile, Miftah remains in London with his wife and plans to return to Karachi in a few days. He resigned as finance minister hours after Dar landed in Pakistan.
Speaking to Geo News before leaving for Pakistan with PM Shehbaz, Dar said he looked forward to taking oath as finance minister and doing his best to stabilise the struggling economy.
Accepting that he faces an uphill task, Dar told reporters that with God’s blessings he hopes to bring the economy back to the point it was 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.