Scandal-hit Pakistan finance minister takes sick leave

LEAVE: Ishaq Dar

PAKISTAN’S finance minister Ishaq Dar has gone on indefinite medical leave amid an ongoing corruption scandal, piling more pressure on the beleaguered government ahead of elections due next year.

Dar came under the radar of an inquiry sparked by the Panama Papers leak last year which centred on discrepancies between the income of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his lavish lifestyle, particularly his family properties in London.

A finance ministry official confirmed last Thurs­day (23) that Dar has applied for and been granted the leave. Reports said he is suffering from a heart condition. Images showing him on a hospital bed in the UK were published in local media this month.

“He has not resigned from his job, nor anybody else has been appointed as finance minister,” the official said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

The supreme court ousted Sharif over the investi­gation this summer, and an accountability court is now trying him on charges that could see him thrown in jail.

The scandal has left his ruling Pakistan Muslim League under pressure ahead of general elections due to be held sometime next year, with the allega­tions against Dar adding to the heat.

The supreme court has also reopened a 17-year-old case against Sharif in which Dar admitted to money laundering for him. He later claimed that he made the confession under duress by the military government of General Pervez Musharraf.

The government in a statement late last Wednes­day (22) said that GDP growth of 5.3 per cent in the last fiscal year was the highest in ten years, and predicted it was on track to hit or even surpass six per cent this year.

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