On leaves

November 25, 2017

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Wednesday accepted Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s request to be relieved of his duties. Till the leaves expire, the prime minister will oversee the affairs of the finance ministry as per cabinet rules.
Despite court proceedings against Dar, he seems in no mood to step down as finance minister. The noose seems to be tightening further around the Ishaq Dar after NAB decided to reopen the Rs1.2 billion Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference against him earlier this month. The reference will be the second ‘mega-corruption’ case against Dar being investigated by NAB, after the reference filed against him in the wake of the Panama Papers case judgment. A warrant has been issued for his arrest after he missed several court appearances on corruption charges that he had amassed wealth beyond his known sources of income.
By granting leaves government tried to ease the mounting pressure of opposition demanding resignation of Dar. But it seems approval of leaves would not solve the issue as parties of opposition would keep putting pressure on government for bringing another finance minister. Earlier, ruling party had failed to act upon the Senate Standing Committee on finance’s advice asking for Dar’s resignation. Now it tried to give impression that as leaves granted Dar would not be controlling the matters of finance. Ishaq Dar should have done the right thing and resigned from his office soon after the NAB trial started.
Prime Minister has already many things of his office to look after and taking charge of the economic affairs would further overburden him. Absence of full time minister has already adversely affected Finance ministry. According to reports, many important documents are pending in finance ministry requiring approval and signatures of the finance minister.
Considering the hard times government is going through, it would be in the best interest of government if a new finance minister, more importantly with clean financial record, is nominated. It is high time that government must realize it needs to take bold steps to find solution for the problems at hand. A full time minister would be in a better position to steer the lousy economy of the country.

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