Foreign Minister Ishaq Dar was given the additional charge of deputy prime minister on Sunday, according to a notification issued by the Cabinet Division.

The appointment comes at a time when PM Shehbaz and Dar, along with other ministers, are in Saudi Arabia to attend the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) special meeting on Global Collaboration, Growth and Energy.

According to the notification, the appointment was made by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif “with immediate effect and until further orders”.

Before Dar taking the role, the last deputy prime minister of the country was Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, then of PML-Q, who was appointed to the position in June 2012.

Dar served as federal minister for commerce and investment in the 1997-99 government of Nawaz Sharif and has twice served as federal minister for finance, economic affairs, revenue and statistics (1998-99 and 2008).

Prior to his first assignment as a federal minister, he was appointed minister of state/chief executive of Pakistan Investment Board (PIB) from 1992 to 1993. He also served as president of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In 2008, Dar briefly assumed the duties of federal finance minister but resigned from the position after PML-N decided to part ways with the PPP-led coalition government at the centre.

He also served as the finance minister for the then-Prime Minister Nawaz’s government in 2013.

Dar was reappointed as the finance minister of Pakistan from September 2022 till the end of the coalition government’s tenure in August 2023.

Despite being the PML-N’s go-to finance expert for decades, he was surprisingly made the minister of foreign affairs when PM Shehbaz picked his new look cabinet in March of this year, with his preferred finance portfolio going to Muhammad Aurangzeb.

Dar has long been seen as a key part of Nawaz Sharif’s inner circle. In a Dawn editorial from 2017, it was said that under Nawaz’s leadership, “the former finance minister wielded maximum influence, practically acting like a deputy prime minister heading more than four dozen committees in various spheres”.

Despite his experience, his policies and stances have drawn widespread criticism. Speaking to DawnNewsTV on the programme ‘Doosra Rukh’ in February, PPP leader Khurshid Shah said the party opposed the appointment of Ishaq Dar as the finance minister.

When asked if Dar could fix Pakistan’s economy, Shah replied: “Dar cannot save the economy; he was the one who damaged it.”

Today, PPP leader Faisal Karim Kundi said that his party had no objections to the appointment of Ishaq Dar as deputy premier, adding that former PPP governments had also appointed deputy PMs.

“It is the prime minister’s prerogative […] if Shehbaz Sharif wanted to appoint Ishaq Dar and he did, it’s his prerogative. It is his cabinet,” Kundi said while speaking to Hum News.

Separately, FM Dar met the Digital Cooperation Organisation (DCO) Secretary-General Deemah Al Yahya and discussed multi-stakeholder cooperation to bridge the digital divide and create avenues to promote financial inclusion through the digital economy, particularly for women and young people.

The newly appointed deputy prime minister reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to DCO’s mission of enabling digital prosperity for all.

Pakistan will host the inaugural DCO-WEF Digital FDI Forum later this year, FO said in a post on X.

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