Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to carry on as finance minister on PM’s directives

Minister for Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh will carry on his ministerial duties after receiving a nod of approval from Prime Minister Imran Khan, sources informed Geo News on Saturday.

Shaikh has received a pat on the back by the premier despite his defeat to Opposition candidate Yousuf Raza Gilani for the Islamabad general seat in Senate.

Sources informed Geo News that the prime minister, in a meeting with the finance minister, expressed full confidence in his abilities and asked that he continue his work.

PM Imran Khan said he recognises the efforts Shaikh has made to boost Pakistan’s economy, said the sources.

They added that following Shaikh’s meeting with the premier, he decided not to hand in his resignation.

In 2019, amid a cabinet reshuffle, Shaikh had been appointed Advisor on Finance after Minister for Finance Asad Umar tendered in his resignation.

In December last year, however, the Islamabad High Court ruled that special assistants and advisors have no authority to chair or sit in on meetings of cabinet committees.

The judgment noted that Article 93 of the Constitution allows the prime minister to appoint up to five advisors, but the conferring of a federal minister status on an advisor is “only for the purpose of perks and privileges” and “does not make the advisor a federal minister as such”.

It further ruled an advisor “can address the Parliament but cannot participate in the voting process”.

The PTI however found that it can remedy this sticky situation. The prime minister is empowered to appoint an un-elected individual as a minister for six months under Article 91(9) of the Constitution.

It was under this allowance that a few days after IHC’s ruling, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh took oath as Minister for Finance.

However, the Constitution states that at the end of six months, that individual will “cease to be a minister and shall not before the dissolution of that Assembly be again appointed a minister unless he is elected a member of that Assembly”.

The article also states that “nothing contained in this clause shall apply to a Minister who is member of the Senate”.

The government was looking to the outcome of the Senate polls to resolve this conundrum but Shaikh lost to Gilani.

Shaikh still has until June under the ordinance that allowed him to become finance minister to continue his duties in that capacity. However, beyond that point, he will be unable to continue unless the assembly is dissolved and he is once more elected.

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