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ISLAMABAD: The prime minister’s spokesman, Mus­addiq Malik, has said that Finance Minister Ishaq Dar would himself make a decision to quit the cabinet depe­nding on his health and claimed that Mr Dar has been looking after day-to-day affairs of the ministry in an efficient manner.

Talking to Dawn on Saturday, Mr Malik rejected the reports that the work of the ministry was being affe­cted in the absence of the finance minister. He said the finance secretary who was the principal accounting officer was in direct contact with Mr Dar and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

“There have been no delays in the ministry and files are moving,” he said.

The spokesman said that the issues regarding the operations of the ministry were being looked after by Mr Dar despite illness while policy matters were being handled by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Economic Affairs Miftah Ismail.

When asked about reports that the decision to replace Mr Dar had been made at the highest level and that former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had also endorsed it, Mr Malik said the process of searching a new finance minister would start after assessing the health condition of Mr Dar.

Mr Malik said the finance minister had submitted a medical certificate to the accountability court which showed details of his illness and diagnosis, and doctors believed it could take three to five weeks for Mr Dar to recover. He said most of the time had already passed therefore they should wait for an update.

The spokesman said that anyone could fall ill, but no one could be removed from the position merely because of the illness.

Mr Dar was indicted on Sept 27 in a corruption reference but had continued to serve as finance minister amid strong criticism from the opposition parties.

On Nov 14, the accountability court issued non-bailable arrest warrants for the minister due to his absence from the court. Mr Dar is accused of accumulating assets worth Rs831.7 million, which is disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Meanwhile, talking to reporters, Minister of State for Information and Broa­dcas­ting Marriyum Aura­ngzeb said the government had so far not received the finance mini­ster’s resignation. She said Mr Dar had played an important role in improving the economic situation and today the country’s economy had become stronger.

Published in Dawn, November 19th, 2017