Dar leading in run for finance minister slot

Dr Shamshad Akhter also wishes her name to be included in the list

By Mehtab Haider
February 23, 2024
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar addressing a seminar. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: There are some strong contenders for the slot of minister for finance under the dispensation of the upcoming Shehbaz Sharif-led government and Ishaq Dar is on the top in the list of favourites.


Dar, who has served as minister for finance several times, is again being considered the top favourite of PMLN supreme leader Nawaz Sharif for this crucial position at this critical juncture when Islamabad will be vying to secure another bailout package from the IMF to avert default.

Dr Shamshad Akhter also wishes her name to be included in the list. She thinks she has won admiration from the IMF, the business community and corporate leadership. However, it remains to be seen if she will be able to muster up required political support for the position. Another strong candidate in Shehbaz Sharif’s consideration is Muhammad Aurangzeb, a seasoned banker and incumbent president of HBL. Regarded highly for his astute understanding of the country’s business and economic landscape, Aurangzeb holds a special place in Shehbaz’s preferences, surpassing other banking figures in Pakistan. Sultan Allana has also been considered for this slot.

Muhammad Aurangzeb joined HBL on April 30, 2018 as the president and CEO. Before this responsibility at HBL, Mr Aurangzeb was the CEO of JP Morgan’s Global Corporate Bank based in Asia, with a rich international banking experience of over 30 years in other senior management roles at ABN AMRO and RBS based in Amsterdam and Singapore.

Mr Aurangzeb is the only Pakistani to be invited to the exclusive membership of the Global CEO Council organized by the WSJ/DowJones group and has been elected as chairman of the Pakistan Banks’ Association and director of the Pakistan Business Council. Mr Aurangzeb received his BS and MBA degrees from The Wharton School (University of Pennsylvania).

A dark horse in the race is Salman Ahmed. Shehbaz Sharif holds Salman Ahmed in high regard, considering him not only as a prospective minister of state for finance but also as a trusted aide on matters related to the economy, finance, and taxation. A distinguished patriot, Ahmed boasts an impressive professional background as an MIT graduate and Harvard MBA. His tenure at the helm of McKinsey, a leading global strategy firm in Pakistan, underscores his prowess in guiding governments and major corporations towards overcoming challenges and devising growth-oriented strategies. Ahmed is optimistic about Pakistan’s potential to achieve an 8 percent GDP growth rate through strategic policy implementations.