Pak’s Finance Minister Quits Amid Rising Economic Crisis

Pak’s Finance Minister Quits Amid Rising Economic Crisis
Pakistani Finance Minister Miftah Ismail | Image source: Al Jazeera

Pakistan’s Finance Minister Miftah Ismail has resigned from his post while the country continues to face an economic crisis and devastating floods, becoming the fifth finance minister to quit in four years.

“I have verbally resigned as Finance Minister,” said Ismail in a tweet, on Sunday, adding that he had signalled his plans to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during a meeting. “I will tender a formal resignation upon reaching Pakistan,” he informed.

The two Pakistani leaders are presently in London, and will leave for Pakistan at the beginning of next week. Ismail has reportedly been replaced as the cash-strapped nation’s new finance czar by Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML(N)) leader Ishaq Dar, according to reports across Pakistani media. Ismail resigned as a result of persistent rumours that Nawaz Sharif did not appreciate some of his significant actions, including the hike in fuel costs. The Express Tribune said that this action was taken to restore the party’s political clout just before the next general election. Dar is anticipated to take the oath of office as the next finance minister on Tuesday.

In a meeting attended by PM Shehbaz Sharif, departing Finance and Information Ministers Miftah Ismail and Marriyum Aurangzeb, Ishaq Dar and Malik Muhammad Ahmad Khan, the top officials did not hold back in charging that the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was to blame for the nation’s economic collapse. The current administration, in accordance with the participants, must “put out the fire of economic disaster” brought on by the previous PTI-led administration.

Pakistan’s economy continues to be unstable with its current account deficit having widened significantly. Inflation in the country has also increased considerably, placing stress on households and companies. Moreover, devastating floods last month claimed the lives of over 1,500 people, and damaged $30 billion worth of property.

On Saturday, the World Bank said that it will provide Pakistan around $2 billion in help. Following his first official visit to the nation, Martin Raiser, vice president of the World Bank for South Asia, made the announcement overnight.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of lives and livelihoods due to the devastating floods and we are working with the federal and provincial governments to provide immediate relief to those who are most affected,” he said.

Last week, an agreement for $850 million in flood assistance for Pakistan was struck during a meeting between PM Sharif and the World Bank, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session. This money is included in the $2 billion aid. Over the last two months, approximately 10,000 physicians, nurses, and other medical personnel have arrived in Sindh province, which is the most severely affected area.

Investors received assurances from FM Ismail and the prime minister on Friday, that the South Asian country was seeking debt relief from bilateral creditors, and would not be turning to commercial banks or holders of Eurobonds.

Four years ago, the former finance minister of Pakistan left the country after he was charged with corruption. It’s vital to remember that there are several cases where he’s sought in Pakistan. Dar’s active arrest warrant was annulled earlier this week by an accountability court, opening the way for his return from London, where he has been living in “self-exile” for the last five or so years.

During his detention in the year 2000, enforced by the Pakistan Army, Dar had accused Nawaz Sharif of having engaged in money laundering in the late 1990s. Additionally, in connection with the infamous Hudaibiya Paper Mills case, Dar confessed to laundering US$14.86 million on behalf of Nawaz Sharif while he was the commerce and finance minister. However, he later retracted his statement saying that it was extracted under duress.

The Express Tribune report said that Dar’s two main objectives are to reduce inflation and the dollar-rupee parity. This information came from a source close to the Sharif family. The source has further claimed that Dar will attempt to affect market pressures by utilising his broad expertise from his previous jobs.


Read more: ‘Rentier Army Should Be Exposed,’ Says Taliban After Border Clash With Pakistan

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