ISLAMABAD: PTI lawmaker Ayub Afridi was appointed as adviser to the prime minister on overseas Pakistanis hours after resigning as Senator to pave way for Shaukat Tarin’s entry into the house to become finance minister again.

“This [seat] was entrusted to me by the party and the prime minister and I happily returned it,” Mr Afridi said in a video message from the parliament after his resignation was accepted by the Senate chairman.

Mr Afridi explained that he had been asked by Prime Minister Imran Khan to resign, but had been told to wait due to the joint session of the parliament.

Informed sources say the government plans to get Shaukat Tarin, the premier’s finance adviser, elected to the Senate on the seat vacated by Mr Afridi to ensure that he becomes finance minister again.

Mr Tarin was appointed as finance minister on April 17 and his constitutional term as a non-elected minister ended on October 16 following which he was appointed as finance adviser to the PM.

Under the Constitution, in order to continue as finance minister for more than six months, Mr Tarin needed to be elected to the parliament.

The government earlier had the plans to get him elected to the upper house on PML-N leader Ishaq Dar’s seat, when it falls vacant under the provision of an ordinance, which could not happen due to legal hitches.

Under the presidential ordinance of September 1, a lawmaker who willfully does not take oath within 40 days of promulgation of the ordinance will cease to hold the office. Mr Dar had however written a letter to the ECP pleading that the rule was not applicable to him.

He said that the ECP had issued a notification regarding his election as a senator, which was suspended by the Supreme Court on May 8, 2018. He said his case was still pending in the apex court and he was in no position to take the oath of Senate until the suspension order held the field. He said he would take the oath when the suspension order was withdrawn.

The government had previously tried to get former finance minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, who was also not a member of the parliament, elected to the Senate.

Mr Shaikh was appointed as finance minister in December 2020 and was the government’s candidate for the hotly contested general seat from Islamabad in March’s Senate elections.

But in a blow to the government, Mr Shaikh lost to the joint opposition’s candidate Yousuf Raza Gilani – a result which led PM Imran to seek a vote of confidence from the National Assembly to show that he still held the majority.

Mr Shaikh was later removed as finance minister on March 29 and replaced by the PTI’s Hammad Azhar, who was shortly replaced by Mr Tarin.

Published in Dawn, November 24th, 2021

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