ISLAMABAD - The overarching role of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has significantly been reduced after the replacement of Nawaz Sharif with Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as chief executive of the government.

Ishaq Dar was the sheet-anchor in Nawaz Sharif’s cabinet and remained quite instrumental in resolving problems ranging from political to financial affairs.

His pivotal role in policy making often led people to dub him as the deputy prime minister of the Nawaz government.

However, soon after assuming the office of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had introduced some structural changes and re-demarked some ministries and divisions due to which the role of Ishaq Dar, which was hovering over the political and economic paraphernalia, is significantly reduced. Now, the finance minister’s role is confined to the Finance Division only.

Dar was relieved from the chairmanship of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet and the Cabinet Committee on Privatisation (CCoP).

Sources in the government informed The Nation that he would also be relieved of the chairmanship of Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) in the next few days.

The prime minister would now head the ECC and CCoP. Similarly, the prime minister has also taken the statistics and privatisation divisions from Dar.

Ishaq Dar has now the charge of the Finance Division, Revenue Division, and the Economic Affairs Division.

Background interviews and discussions with some cabinet members and senior party parliamentarians dispelled the impression of Dar being sidelined, with many officials insisting that he commanded the same respect and authority that he used to exercise in the previous cabinet under Nawaz Sharif.

They said that all the changes being made by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had complete approval and backing of the former premier Nawaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar himself.

Many of these structural changes were thought out in 2015 but could not be materialised due to the political and legal issues, which had virtually crippled the government for the past over a year, particularly after the revelations of Panama Papers.

Sources in the party informed The Nation that all those changes were designed by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar himself, who was seen on forefront tackling economic, constitutional and political issues facing the government, who wanted to stay in the shadows.

It was due to the alleged serious corruption charges levelled against him during the Panama Papers case proceedings in the apex court.

Sources said that at the time of cabinet formation under Shahid Khaqan Abbasi following the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif as prime minister, Ishaq Dar had initially refused to join the cabinet and wanted to get himself cleared of all the corruption charges first.

But his handling of too many things in the government came in the way of his decision to stay out of the cabinet and on the insistence of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi he was compelled to be part of the cabinet.

It was all due to this, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in his maiden speech in the Parliament acknowledged the role played by Ishaq Dar for bringing the economy back on track and achieving the ambitious target of GDP growth rate to 5.3 percent.

Being a Finance Minister Ishaq Dar would mainly be preparing the Finance Bill 2017-2018, which would be the last budget of the incumbent government as soon after the budget the mandated five-year term of the government would culminate.

Ishaq Dar is also among the family members of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif who would be facing National Accountability Bureau (NAB) investigation into alleged corruption charges against them.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan in Panama Papers case has directed the NAB to file a reference against Ishaq Dar for holding assets beyond means, and an increase in wealth from Rs 9.1 million to over Rs 800 million.

Furthermore, the larger bench of the Supreme Court had also directed the NAB authorities to consider reopening of Hudaibiya Paper Mills reference against the Sharif family.

In the case, Ishaq Dar was also one of the accused with the Sharif family, but in early 2000 he had turned approver in the case to manage his release.

However, he later retracted his statement.