Muhammad Ishaq Dar (Urdu: محمد اسحاق ڈار) is a Pakistani politician and chartered accountant who is the current Finance Minister of Pakistan, in office since June 2013. A member of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), Dar has been a member of the Senate of Pakistan since 2003, serving as Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from 2012 to 2013. He had previously been a member of the National Assembly of Pakistan for seven years from 1993 to 1999.
Dar grew up in Lahore, and was educated at the Hailey College of Commerce, Government College University, later attending the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Prior to entering politics, he worked as an accountant in various private and public sector organizations.
Dar was the chief of Pakistan Board of Investment in early 1990s during the Sharif's first ministry and has served as a member of the federal cabinet, in various positions, since 1997. During the Sharif's second ministry, he held the cabinet portfolios of Commerce Minister of Pakistan with the additional portfolio of Finance Minister of Pakistan. He briefly served as the Finance Minister of Pakistan for the second time during the Gillani ministry. In June 2013, during the third Sharif ministry, Dar was appointed as the Finance Minister of Pakistan for the third time.
Early life and education
Muhammad Ishaq Dar has a bachelor's degree in commerce from the Hailey College of Commerce of the University of the Punjab in Lahore, which he attended from 1966 to 1969. He then attended Government College University in Lahore. Reportedly, Dar was awarded two gold medals and a roll of honor for first position in B. Com. (Hons) at the University of Punjab.
Dar became an Associate Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales in 1974, where he achieved his certification in chartered accountancy. He was one of the youngest Pakistanis at the time to have passed the professional qualification in the minimum time period. In 1975 he became associate member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan. He obtained fellowship in the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales in 1980 and in the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan in 1984. Currently, he is a fellow member of the Pakistan Institute of Public Finance Accountants and of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
Professionally, Dar is a chartered accountant. After having worked as director of finance in a London-based textile corporation from 1974 to 1976, Dar moved to Libya in 1976 and worked as senior auditor in the Office of the Auditor General's Department in Tripoli.
He has been a director of the World Bank, as Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors at the Asian Development Bank and as a Governor of the Islamic Development Bank. From 2002 to 2008, during the Pervez Musharraf rule in Pakistan, he moved to the United Arab Emirates where he was a financial adviser to a member of the ruling family of the United Arab Emirates. On returning to Pakistan in 1977, he became partner in a chartered accountant firm, and in 1980 he became financial adviser to a multinational construction company. Dar served as president of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 1993.
Dar began his political career in the late 1980s as a member of the central executive committee of Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML-N). In 1992, he held his first public office as chief executive of the Pakistan Board of Investment until 1993 with the status of the Minister of State. Dar was elected to the National Assembly of Pakistan for the first time in the 1993 general election, from Lahore-VI constituency in Punjab.
He was re-elected to the National Assembly in the 1997 general election, from Lahore-VI constituency in Punjab. when his party, PML-N, won a clear majority in the National Assembly for the first time. In February 1997 Dar was appointed as the Commerce Minister of Pakistan in Nawaz Sharif's second ministry. In May 1998 Pakistan tested its nuclear weapons, and the world responded with heavy sanctions against Pakistan. The economy plummeted, so Dar was given the additional position of Finance Minister of Pakistan for the first time. He helped conclude negotiations for an International Monetary Fund rescue package to meet an economic crisis that had been triggered by the sanctions.
Dar continued to serve in both positions until the 1999 Pakistani coup d'état in which then Chief of Army Staff, Pervez Musharraf, overthrew Nawaz Sharif and his existing elected government. Dar spent nearly two years in jail under Musharraf over corruption charges that never went to trial. Dar is amongst Nawaz Sharif's loyalists who kept the PML-N alive during Musharraf's rule. In 2003, Dar returned to Pakistan after several months’ of stay outside Pakistan and was elected for the first time to the Senate of Pakistan for a term of three years. During his tenure, he also served as Parliamentary Leader of PML-N in the Senate. He was re-elected to the Senate in the 2006 senate election, this time for six years.
After the 2008 general election, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and PML-N formed a coalition government as both parties secured the most number of seats in the National Assembly. Dar was re-appointed as the Finance Minister of Pakistan for the second time. However, his tenure was short-lived after the PML-N left the PPP-led coalition to lead the movement to impeach Pervez Musharraf and to restore judiciary Dar was elected as the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate in March 2012. He continued at his position as Opposition Leader until May 2013. In 2011, Dar was decorated with Nishan-e-Imtiaz, the highest civil award given to Pakistani nationals, for his parliamentary service in Pakistan. However, along with other party colleagues, he refused to receive it from then President Asif Ali Zardari. Dar was re-elected for the third time to the Senate in the 2012 senate election, for six years. As a member of the Special Committee of the Parliament of Pakistan on Constitutional Reforms, Dar co-prepared and passed the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth amendments to the Constitution of Pakistan.
For the 2013 general election, Dar was made part of PML-N's central parliamentary board tasked with selecting candidates for the election. After the PML-N was elected to government at the 2013 election, Dar was made the Minister for Finance for the third time in June 2013 in the third Sharif ministry. In 2014, Dar was made the chairman of the Special Parliamentary Committee on Election Reforms.
In July 2016 the National Accountability Bureau cleared Dar in an over Rs 130 billion corruption case. Dar had previously claimed several times that he was facing no corruption case; however, the closing of an investigation against him negated his earlier claims. The NAB had included Dar's case in the list of 179 mega-corruption cases since 2001. It was reported that the case was closed due to "immense pressure" from within the NAB or from the federal government despite the fact that enough material was available against Dar. In April 2016 Dar looked after important government matters when Nawaz Sharif underwent heart surgery in May 2016 in the United Kingdom.
In October 2016 the Emerging Markets newspaper, which was reportedly published by the International Monetary Fund/World Bank, declared Dar as 'Finance Minister of the year 2016 for South Asia'. The award was received by the Pakistan Ambassador to the United States Jalil Abbas Jilani on behalf of Dar. Following the award, several government officials jumped to congratulate him for winning such a 'prestigious' award. Later, the International Monetary Fund said the newspaper did not belong to it and was an independent publication. It was noted that five Pakistani state-owned firms funded the Emerging Markets edition, which carried a supplement on Pakistan.
Dar is considered an old loyalist of the Sharif family which goes back to the time when Dar, as a young clerk, began working in the Ittefaq Group owned by the Sharif family. In 2004 Dar's eldest son married Nawaz Sharif's daughter Asma Nawaz in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Dar runs two charitable organisations as well. These trusts reportedly work to provide shelter to the homeless, help financially deprived students, and arrange mass marriage events for needy couples.