As Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif convalesces after a heart surgery at the Harley Street Clinic of London, the affairs of the federal government are being run by his close comrades as the premier had divided the responsibilities among Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar and Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, while Maryam Safdar is also shouldering part of the responsibility, Pakistan Today has learnt reliably.
Prime Minister House spokesperson Muhayuddin Wani has said that in the absence of the prime minister, the affairs of the federal government are being discharged “as per the provisions of the constitution”.
“There is no change and matters are being decided by the prime minister as per routine,” he said, and added, “Chief Staff Officer to PM Nabeel Awan is there in London to assist the prime minister in the official affairs. The chief security officer and other necessary staff are also with the premier as per routine,” he added.
Asked how the affairs were being run while the prime minister was unconscious, Wani said there was not much difference between a routine sleep of 8 hours a day and the unconsciousness during the operation.
He said that the prime minister would discharge routine affairs despite his stay at London.
“The prime minister signed the budget documents and the same sealed packet was received on Tuesday morning and were sent to the officials,” he added.
An informed source in the government said that prior to his departure for London, the prime minister had divided the workload at the PM House among Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar and his daughter Maryam Safdar.
“The finance minister will oversee the affairs relating to finance, legislature and executive besides dealing with the ongoing talks with the opposition regarding the Terms of Reference (TORs) for the Panama commission. Chaudhry Nisar will be responsible for security related issues while Maryam Safdar, along with a team of bureaucrats will take up the emerging issues,” the source added.
Another key minister told Pakistan Today that the decision by the prime minister to delegate his powers to Senator Dar and Maryam Safdar had irked Chaudhry Nisar, who had boycotted the recent meeting of the federal cabinet in protest, the source said.
The source added that Nisar was hoping the prime minister would delegate his powers to him alone as was the case when Nisar oversaw all the affairs of the PM House when prime minister had gone to Turkey and London recently.
“Nisar chaired all important meetings in the absence of the premier recently but this time around, Dar has been entrusted with key decisions,” the source added.
Wani, however, does not agree with any of this.
“First, the interior minister had himself informed the cabinet in advance about his absence due to some other engagements. Second, I am not in a position to speak on behalf of the interior minister,” he added.
Wani was of the view that ministers miss cabinet meetings due to other engagements and there was nothing suspect about the absence of the interior minister.
He, however, agreed that the affairs had been divvied up between Dar and Nisar.
“During the next three days, the finance minister will be overseeing the issues related to the budget session while Chaudhry Nisar will be responsible for internal security issues as per routine,” he said and added that the prime minister will be kept abreast of all the important developments.
When contacted Ministry of Interior Public Relations Director Sarfraz Hussain confirmed Wani’s account.
“Due to some official engagements already scheduled, the interior minister could not attend the cabinet meeting. This was conveyed to those concerned in advance,” he added.