Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Shaukat Tarin was on Monday elected a senator from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on a seat vacated by PTI leader Muhammad Ayub Afridi.
Last month, Afridi had submitted his resignation as member of the upper house to Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani. According to media reports, the government wanted to get Tarin elected to Senate on the seat vacated by Afridi to ensure he can become the finance minister again.
Tarin was appointed as the finance minister on April 17 and his constitutional tenure ended on October 16 after which he was appointed as the finance adviser to the PM. According to the Constitution, in order to continue as the finance minister for longer than six months, Tarin needed to be elected to parliament.
Sources close to Tarin had earlier told Dawn that the government's first priority was to get him elected to the upper house on PML-N leader Ishaq Dar's seat — which has virtually remained vacant in his absence — but a plan B was also in place to get a Senate seat vacated from KP for his election because of some uncertainties.
Informed sources later said it was decided that Afridi would resign to create a seat for Tarin in KP. Tarin’s national identity card had to be changed with a KP address followed by registration in the voter list, to qualify for senatorship from that province.
After being elected as senator, Tarin can now present the much debated mini budget, set to be put in front of the parliament in a few days.
Out of 145 members of the provincial assembly, 122 cast their votes during today's Senate by-election.
The finance adviser won the seat after securing 87 votes. Meanwhile, Shaukat Jamal Ameerzada of the Awami National Party and Zahir Shah of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl secured 13 votes each. PPP's Mohammad Saeed did not manage to secure a single vote.
Speaking to the media in Peshawar after his election, Tarin said that he will focus on the the province's financial and economic problems. He said that his contribution to the province would be "progressive".
"KP is very close to me because the people of the province have gone through a lot of hardship," he said, vowing to work for the people's welfare with even more dedication.
The newly elected Senator said that the Kamyab Jawan programme would be introduced in backward areas to provide the people with interest-free loans.
When a reporter asked whether Tarin had received all the votes from the assembly's PTI members, provincial finance minister Taimur Saleem Jhagra replied in the affirmative. "He received all the [PTI] votes. Four votes were rejected and five members were not able to make it due to various reasons."
Commenting on the exponential rise in inflation, Tarin said that this was a worldwide phenomenon. "Commodity prices have doubled in the past one year," he said, giving the examples of petrol, edible oil, steel and coal.
Major world powers, such as the United States, have also been affected by inflation, he said, adding that prices were expected to decline in the next few months. He added that the government had provided subsidies to the people on several essential items in an effort to give them relief.
When asked about his vote being transferred from Karachi to Mardan in order to make him eligible for the Senate seat, Tarin curtly corrected the reporter saying that his vote was not transferred from the metropolis.
"My vote came from Lahore [...] my parents used to live in Lahore [but] my in-laws live here," he said, cheekily adding that "damaad tou adha ghar wala hota hai" (a son in-law is also a part of the family).
The government had previously tried to get former finance minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, who was also not a member of parliament, elected to the Senate.
Shaikh was appointed as the 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, Shaikh lost to the joint opposition candidate Yousuf Raza Gilani — a result which led PM Imran to seek a vote of confidence from the National Assembly to show he still held the majority.
Shaikh was later removed as finance minister on March 29 and was replaced with PTI's Hammad Azhar, who was shortly replaced with Tarin.