ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has relieved Ishaq Dar of his responsibilities as the finance minister, said a notification issued here Wednesday night.

This decision was taken after Ishaq Dar had written a letter to the prime minister, stating that he should be relieved of his duties as the finance minister besides granting a three-month leave without pay.

Through the notification, Dar’s leave was approved. He would, however, keep the portfolio of federal minister.

It was further stated in the notification that in case he does not return back and rejoins the federal cabinet as the finance minister beyond the leave period of three months, he would also lose his portfolio as federal minister.

Earlier on Wednesday, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar extended a written request to Prime Minister Shahid Khaqn Abbasi to grant him long leave and also relieve him of his ministerial responsibilities during the period, sources in the ruling party and the government said.

Dar had been in the eye of the storm for the past some time and the opposition parties were criticising the government for retaining him as the finance minister despite serious corruption charges against him.

The pressure continued mounting on the government as Ishaq Dar, due to his heart ailment, was allegedly unable to travel back to face the pending corruption reference against him in the accountability court which first issued non-bailable warrants for him and later initiated process of declaring him a proclaimed offender.

The sources in the party said in the last couple of meetings it was finally decided that the finance minister should be sent on long leave and Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi should look after the affairs of his ministry with the help of a team of advisers.

The sources also said former prime minister Nawaz Sharif himself talked to Dar and took him into confidence on the decision taken here to save the government from undue criticism because of his continuous absence from the country.

It is expedient to point out here that the counsel for Finance Minister Ishaq Dar had told the accountability court that his client required six weeks to recover and fly back.

According to the medical report submitted by his counsel in the accountability court, his doctors had advised him bed rest and he would be examined on November 27 to take the decision about his treatment. One of his main heart arteries was blocked and he was advised complete bed rest. He would take another six weeks to recover from the disease and could not travel back earlier, the counsel had told the court.

Previously during his visit to London, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had met Dar in the hospital and advised him to relinquish his ministerial responsibilities, but he refused to step down, taking the position that it would have negative impact on the ruling PML-N.

The sources in the government confirmed that the matter was decided after deliberations between the former prime minister and his close political aides, including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi who was also in favour of sending Dar on leave as his presence was just adding a lot of to troubles of the government.

However, now the ruling party is giving the impression that it is the finance minister’s initiative and he has volunteered to go on long leave owing to his serious ailment.

In his letter, Ishaq Dar has also requested the prime minister to also relieve him of his ministerial responsibilities during the leave period.

The sources in the government disclosed that Shahid Khaqn Abbasi would either handle the finance ministry through a adviser on finance or appoint a team of financial experts to function under his headship.