Ishaq Dar back as Finance Minister

Pakistan’s stock market responded positively on Monday to the prospects of Nawaz Sharif becoming Prime Minister.

With his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) registering a decisive lead over the others, the spectre of a hung Parliament and accompanying political uncertainty faded away and the market registered a 1.68 per cent increase in the benchmark index of the top 100 shares.

Mr. Sharif’s victory also brings hopes of a pro-business tilt in policy-making since his family has businesses of its own.

While its core support base of the business community remained intact, the PML(N)’s victory is also attributed to its success in reaching out to the masses whose loyalties traditionally lay with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

The first portfolio to be allotted was that of Finance, indicating the significance PML (N) attached to the economy, currently in the doldrums. Ishaq Dar, Finance Minister during Mr. Sharif’s second stint at premiership in the late 1990s and then again briefly at the beginning of the last dispensation when PML (N) was in alliance with the PPP, was chosen.

No sabre-rattling

Well aware of the problems he inherits, Mr. Sharif has been pragmatic in his comments to the media.

If his victory speech on Saturday night was conciliatory towards his political rivals, his comments regarding the civil-military relationship indicated that he would not be adopting a confrontationist course.

Similarly, with the U.S., he is not doing any sabre-rattling, maintaining that he planned to work with Washington while underlining his concerns on drones.

It is as yet unclear how the PML(N) would make up for the shortfall in numbers. With cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s party, Pakistan

Tehreek-e-Insaf, deciding to sit in the opposition in the National Assembly, it is to stitch up an alliance with Jamat-e-Islami in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.