ISLAMABAD: The government has made up its mind to get Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin elected as senator, from Punjab or Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, to ensure continuity and stability in markets and to make an announcement ahead of formal Oct 4 negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for revival of its programme for Pakistan.
Highly placed sources said the government would announce its plan for election of Mr Tarin from Punjab against Senator Ishaq Dar’s seat, which has virtually remained vacant in the absence of the PML-N’s former finance minister. Mr Dar has not taken oath because of his self-exile in the UK.
Sources close to Mr Tarin told Dawn that the finance minister had a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday where it was decided to immediately announce his election plans. The first priority is to get him elected on Mr Dar’s seat, but a plan-B is also in place to get a Senate seat vacated from KP for his election because of some uncertainties. The senator vacating the seat from KP would be compensated through some other political adjustment.
The sources said that Mr Tarin’s election on Mr Dar’s seat could have uncertainties as it could be challenged in courts and stayed.
He will be elected on Ishaq Dar’s seat or a KP senator will vacate his seat for him
The formal announcement would be made much before the beginning of talks with the IMF on Oct 4 so that the Fund’s negotiating team and management has clarity of direction and certainty that certain understandings, commitments and agreements would be honoured by the head of the economic team as he would be there to implement them.
The sources, however, explained that even if the election process took some time, it would not matter as Mr Tarin would be made an adviser for five days and then sworn in as senator and finance minister as well. “They can’t afford to have uncertainty on the continuation of Mr Tarin,” he said.
Mr Tarin had been brushing aside uncertainty about his own future in the government and repeatedly said the prime minister had promised to make him a senator. The finance minister, whose constitutional tenure is ending on Oct 15, had also rejected uncertainty about his portfolio. “I am not going anywhere. I trust the prime minister who has promised to make me a senator,” he said last week.
The government on Sept 1 had promulgated the Elections (Third Amendment) Ordinance 2021, making it binding upon the elected members to take oath as legislator within 60 days. The amendment has been made to Section 72 of the Elections Act 2017. According to the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan, under the amendment, members will have to take oath within 40 days of the promulgation of this ordinance.
“In case of failure to take oath within the mandatory period, seats of elected members to Senate, assembly and local government will become vacant,” it said. Despite promulgation of the ordinance almost a month ago, its text has not been made available to the media.
Published in Dawn, September 28th, 2021