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'Neither angry nor disappointed': Asad Umar on leaving 'most difficult job in Pakistan'

Updated April 18, 2019

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PTI leader Asad Umar (R) in discussion with journalist Kashif Abbasi (L) on ARY News programme Off The Record on Thursday night. — Screengrab
PTI leader Asad Umar (R) in discussion with journalist Kashif Abbasi (L) on ARY News programme Off The Record on Thursday night. — Screengrab

Asad Umar has said that he "is neither angry nor disappointed" at Prime Minister Imran Khan's cabinet reshuffle that saw him step down as finance minister — a position he referred to as "the most difficult job in Pakistan" — eight months after being appointed.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leader made these comments while speaking to journalist Kashif Abbasi on ARY News programme Off The Record on Thursday.

When insisted by Abbasi that he must have felt disappointed or even angry at the prime minister's decision, Umar said: "To be honest, I did not feel any [disappointment]. In the last eight months, I had worked so much that I told my family that I was on the verge of a physical burnout."

Describing the finance ministry's position as "the most difficult job in Pakistan", Umar said that his stress levels "plummeted" as soon as he was informed by the premier of his decision.

"There is no extent to how relaxed I feel right now."

When pressed further by the anchor, Umar stayed firm on his stance, saying: "I am being told by people that I should be angry but the fact remains that I am not.

"Had I been angry, would I have still held a press conference and said that 'Imran Khan will build the Naya Pakistan'? There was no gun to my head [...] it was what I genuinely felt in my heart."

Profile: Asad Umar — from corporate corridors to PTI trenches

Umar maintained that him feeling aggrieved did not make any sense as the ministry was not his personal domain that he ought to have had held.

When asked if his era would be deemed a failure, Umar said he would leave that for "time and you [journalists] to decide", but maintained that the state of the economy was not as bad as when he had taken over.

"Were you sacked because of your performance?" the anchor asked, to which Umar responded in the affirmative, adding: "What else could it be?"

Describing the reasoning given to him, Umar said that "the prime minister thinks that a fresh team and a fresh start could help allay the pressure on the government."

Read: 'Asad Umar failed on a key task: controlling the narrative'

When asked why he refused the energy portfolio and opted against staying in the cabinet, Umar said that he was "never in it for posts and designations" and only wanted to contribute in a position that was a better fit for his expertise.

Umar refused Abbasi's insinuation that he was reconsidering his future in politics, asserting that he would "still keep on actively contributing and serving his constituency".

He said that the most difficult decision taken during his time in charge was not "resorting to populist politics and instead sticking to what was best for the people's interest in the long run".

The host asked Umar to comment on his "ego", adding that he is perceived to be "too egotistical" at times.

"I have heard this too but from big-shot elites who speak English," replied Umar. "I also hear the common man say: 'He [Umar] is a very simple man' when they are asked what good they see in me."