RAWALPINDI: After a self-exile of nearly five years and several speculations, senior PML-N leader and ‘finance wizard’ Ishaq Dar returned to Pakistan on Monday night. The former minister landed at the Nur Khan Airbase in Chaklala, Rawalpindi. He accompanied Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on his trip back to the country from London.
Talking to reporters at the airbase, Dar said that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and the premier had tasked him with the finance portfolio. “I will try my best to fulfill all the responsibilities. We will try to take out the country from the economic swamp it is stuck in […] the way we did in 1998-1999 and 2013-2014.” Dar expressed hope that “we will now head in a positive direction”.
Earlier, speaking to private TV channel before leaving for Pakistan with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Dar Dar has said he has his eyes set on putting Pakistan’s weakening economy back on track. He said he looked forward to taking oath as Pakistan’s finance minister and then doing his best to stabilise the struggling economy. 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. Finance Minister Miftah Ismail has given his verbal resignation to PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif in London and Dar — his replacement — flew to Pakistan along with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif from Luton airport.
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 appointment, according to a source, was made after Nawaz Sharif expressed his disappointment in Miftah’s economic policies, mainly for increasing the prices of commodities used by the poor sections of Pakistan.
Dar will face challenging times upon his arrival as the Pakistani rupee has recently escaped an all-time low against the dollar, the stock market has been lacklustre, and forex reserves are continuously depleting — standing at $8,346.4 million as of September 16. 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.