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Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Dar: what’s next?

Qamar Bashir

By  Qamar Bashir

After the elections, Nawaz Sharif was left heartbroken, and his die-hard fans were devastated by his decision to decline the premiership. Feeling humiliated and dejected, Nawaz Sharif’s ability to make rational decisions was clouded by agony and pain. Seizing the opportunity, the architect of Pakistan’s political landscape acted swiftly, tactfully proposing Shahbaz Sharif as Prime Minister in Nawaz Sharif’s place. According to some close associates, Nawaz Sharif was threatened to consider a hundred times before deciding against it, with the possibility of his constituency results and those of his daughter being made public, adding to his humiliation and indignation. He knew that his beloved daughter would rather endure desperation and pain than be denied the Chief Ministership of Pakistan’s largest province, for which she had worked tirelessly.

The threat was enough to compel Nawaz Sharif to take a back seat and watch the premiership, for which he had waited, suffered, and worked so hard, slip away from his grasp and be bestowed upon Shahbaz Sharif, who had solidified his connections with the establishment during his previous tenure.

Nawaz Sharif also witnessed with utter indignation when his long-time favorite, Ishaq Dar, was denied the Ministry of Finance. This decision came as a profound surprise to Dar, who felt deeply humiliated when his pride as a financial wizard was severely and mercilessly wounded.

Ironically, this critical ministry was handed to an unelected professional with no experience or expertise in handling complex public financial matters. Furthermore, this individual was not accountable to the people of Pakistan for his performance as Finance Minister.

Despite being offered the consolation prize of Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ishaq Dar found himself ill-suited for the role, much to the dismay of the people of Pakistan who were disheartened to see him as the country’s top diplomat.

Amidst the drama of suspense, intrigue, deception, and conspiracies, Shahbaz Sharif played his cards masterfully. He achieved everything he desired in life, without apprently alienating his elder brother and  his leader, positioning himself as the most suitable candidate for the premiership by aligning himself, his political ideology, and his complete obedience with the architects of the election results.

Once elected as Prime Minister, Shahbaz Sharif’s obedience was legendary. He appointed all unelected nominees for the important cabinet portfolios, accepted all policy decisions, and left no opportunity, event, or media discourse untouched to express his admiration, gratitude, and thanks to the architects.

As the shock, sorrow, and agony of the election results subsided, Nawaz Sharif and his close associates came to the stark realization that they had been completely marginalized and excluded from the political chessboard of Pakistan. They understood how Rana Sanaullah, who could have undoubtedly been the next interior minister, was sidelined to make way for Mr. Naqvi, who had earned praise and blessings from the establishment for ruthlessly cracking down on the PTI during the 9th May incident and manipulating the election results to disadvantage some of the the PML(N) candidates while rewarding the others.

Upon recognizing this reality, they devised a plan of action to reassert themselves within the government and the party. In the public domain, they began injecting the narrative that the election results were manipulated to deprive Nawaz Sharif of the premiership and deny his close associates victory in the elections and their guaranteed place in the cabinet. Discreetly, they withdrew PML(N) support from the current government by disassociating the party’s manifesto from the incumbent government. They then moved to assert themselves in the formation of the cabinet by advocating for Ishaq Dar to be appointed as Deputy Prime Minister. Finally, they orchestrated a shift in the party’s presidency from Shahbaz Sharif to Nawaz Sharif.

Out of the four planned actions, the most damaging and far-reaching consequence was the statement that the PML(N) is not responsible for implementing its manifesto. This assertion was based on the flimsy ground that since Shahbaz Sharif’s government is heading a coalition government and the PML(N) could not achieve a simple majority in parliament, they are not accountable for implementing their manifesto or the performance of Shahbaz Sharif’s government. This leaves the question open as to whose manifesto Shahbaz Sharif’s government is following. This was a severe blow to the government of Shahbaz Sharif and a shock to its architect.

In essence, this statement implies that Shahbaz Sharif’s government does not have the mandate of the people to govern. It represents a profound loss of confidence in the government’s policies and leadership, significantly undermining its legitimacy and credibility. This situation is akin to a building whose foundation has been pulled out, and it is on the verge of collapse with a slight touch.

The second attack by the Nawaz Sharif faction was to elevate Mr. Ishaq Dar, a close confidant of Nawaz Sharif, to the position of Deputy Prime Minister. This means that Dar now holds significant authority, as both the interior minister and finance minister, along with the entire cabinet, will report to him before making any policy decisions in their respective spheres. As Deputy Prime Minister, Dar is second-in-command and will step in as Prime Minister when necessary. He will lead Cabinet meetings, represent the government at official functions, and handle day-to-day government operations. He will also oversee specific policy areas, ensuring coherence and alignment with the overall government agenda.

The third attack was to deprive Shahbaz Sharif of the coveted post of President of the PML(N). This move may not have been questioned, if Nawaz had been Prime Minister. His realization of the conspiracy against him has made him adamant to strip Shahbaz Sharif of all powers. This action will leave Shahbaz Sharif without any significant authority; Deprived of the party’s presidency, the PML(N) manifesto, and the Prime Minister’s absolute power, Shahbaz Sharif will become a leader without legitimacy or authority.

This reaction is crucial on several fronts. If the PML(N) decides to withdraw its support from the current government, Shahbaz Sharif’s administration would collapse immediately. Now, assuming he is no longer the Prime Minister and holds no significant portfolio within the party, his fate becomes uncertain and his political future could hang in the balance.

Furthermore, the question arises: who would be the next favorite of the architect if Shahbaz Sharif is sidelined? This is a complex and difficult question to answer at this juncture. However, one thing is clear: regardless of Shahbaz Sharif’s prowess in the game of politics, both he and his architect will undoubtedly encounter shocking surprises from the experienced and seasoned player, Nawaz Sharif. As the situation unfolds, the dynamics of Pakistani politics are bound to shift, and the outcomes may be unpredictable.

By  Qamar Bashir

Former Press Secretary to the President

Former Press Minister to the Embassy of Pakistan to France

Former MD, SRBC






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