Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar appointed as deputy Prime Minister

In a surprise move, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar was on Sunday appointed as the country’s deputy prime minister.

Dar, 73, a chartered accountant and a veteran politician, belongs to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party.

According to a notification issued by the Cabinet Division, the appointment was made by Prime Minister Sharif “with immediate effect and until further orders”.

The announcement was made when both Prime Minister Sharif and Foreign Minister Dar were away in Saudi Arabia to attend a World Economic Forum’s moot.

It was clear what specific responsibilities Dar would perform as deputy prime minister as traditionally, all powers are concentrated in the prime minister, who is the head of the government.

Dar is considered close to former premier Nawaz Sharif due to matrimonial links between the two families, as his son is the son-in-law of the elder Sharif.

He has served as finance minister in two previous governments. He was considered the party’s answer to all economic problems, serving as finance minister for the fourth and last time in the previous Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) coalition government.

Despite being the party’s go-to finance expert for decades, he was surprisingly made the foreign minister when Prime Minister Sharif shaped his cabinet in March.

Dar was tipped to be made chairman of the Senate, the upper House of the Parliament, but lost the race last month after the PML-N made a deal with the former foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari-led Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) to win its support for the coalition government.

The party agreed to give the president and chairman senate slot to the PPP, leaving Dar with no option but to settle for some other role in the government.

The PML-N and the PPP agreed on a power-sharing deal to form the coalition government even though the former prime minister Imran Khan-backed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-backed independents won majority seats at the 266-member National Assembly.

It is not the first time a deputy prime minister has been appointed. Chaudhry Parvez Elahi served as Deputy Prime Minister during the tenure of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) from June 25, 2012, to June 29, 2013. His role at that time was mostly symbolic as he was rewarded by then-President Asif Ali Zardari for supporting the PPP government.

Elahi is currently president of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and is in jail due to allegations of corruption.

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