Pakistan’s embattled finance minister Ishaq Dar, who was under a cloud following allegations of living beyond his means, has stepped down and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is now handling the portfolio and considering various options for choosing a replacement.
An official of the Prime Minister’s House confirmed to the media on Saturday that Dar had stepped down.
Earlier, an accountability or anti-graft court hearing a corruption case against Dar — who is in London for treatment of a heart condition — issued a non-bailable arrest warrant when he failed to appear in court for the fourth time on November 14. Dar is a close aide of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif.
The country’s corruption watchdog, National Accountability Bureau (NAB), has filed a case pertaining to allegations that Dar owns assets disproportionate to his known sources of income in line with the Supreme Court’s July 28 judgment in the Panama Papers case.
Dar has been accused of owning property worth millions of dollars in Pakistan, the UAE and the US which he had not declared to tax authorities.
Geo News channel reported on Saturday that Dar had sent in his resignation to Prime Minister Abbasi earlier this week and a formal confirmation came from Prime Minister’s House spokesperson Musadik Malik, who said that in light of Dar’s health and his treatment abroad, the finance portfolio had already come under the prime minister’s control in line with cabinet rules.
Malik added that the prime minister was taking regular briefings on matters related to finance and managing the portfolio.
Dar’s resignation at this stage will add to the woes of the ruling PML-N party and the Sharif family. Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz, widely seen as his political heir, are embroiled in several corruption cases and the former premier has been disqualified from politics by the Supreme Court.
These developments could affect the PML-N’s campaign for crucial parliamentary elections to be held next year.