After five years in self-exile, PML-N leader Ishaq Dar returns to Pakistan

Ishaq Dar, a prominent PML-N leader and ‘financial whiz,’ returned to Pakistan on Monday evening after nearly five years of self-exile and rumors.

The former minister landed at Chaklala, Rawalpindi’s Nur Khan Airbase. He accompanied Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on his journey from London back to the country.

Dar told reporters at the airbase that PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif and the prime minister had assigned him the finance ministry.

“I shall make every effort to fulfill my responsibilities. We shall attempt to extricate the nation from its economic quagmire as we did in 1998-1999 and 2013-2014.”

Dar expressed optimism that “we are now headed in the right direction.”

Certain PML-N leaders, such as Maryam Nawaz and Javed Latif, had repeatedly attacked and disowned former finance minister Miftah Ismail’s policies, particularly the inevitable reversal of the costly gasoline subsidy implemented by the previous PTI administration.

Dar had also openly criticized Ismail and undermined his decision-making in the preceding months.

Last Thursday, a court of accountability lifted Dar’s outstanding arrest order, allowing the former finance minister to return from London.

Judge Mohammad Bashir of the Accountability Court issued a suspension order for a perpetual arrest warrant issued against Dar on December 11, 2017, after he fled from an assets-beyond-means case. The warrants stayed until October 7, allowing the senator-elect two weeks to comply with the law.

The court’s judgment lent credence to rumors that Dar would return to the country to replace the embattled Miftah Ismail as finance minister.

However, the news was confirmed today when Miftah submitted his resignation to London’s senior party leaders. Subsequently, PML-N issued a statement announcing that Nawaz Sharif and PM Shehbaz had nominated Dar for the position of finance minister.

According to a source, Nawaz told the attendees that the party had “lost political capital” and that Dar should seek to retrieve it.

His party will also demand that Dar provide fiscal space for the government to begin spending before the next election. Pakistan’s readmission to the International Monetary Fund for yet another bailout plan is mainly attributed to his problematic currency rate strategy during his last term in office.