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Govt changing economic team at IMF behest, claims PML-N

Updated May 05, 2019

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Ahsan Iqbal says the PML-N will lodge a protest in the National Assembly over the appointment of the new SBP governor. ─ File photo
Ahsan Iqbal says the PML-N will lodge a protest in the National Assembly over the appointment of the new SBP governor. ─ File photo

ISLAMABAD: The main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has alleged that the government is changing its economic team at the behest of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and declared that it will lodge a “strong protest” in the National Assembly over the move.

The PML-N leaders alleged that the finance minister, the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and the chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) had been removed at the dictates of the IMF and they were now being replaced by the “representatives of the Fund”.

“Pakistan has been made a colony of the IMF. I am forced to say that unfortunately the country’s sovereignty has been sold out and we will lodge a strong protest in the National Assembly over it,” said the PML-N’s senior leader Ahsan Iqbal while talking to reporters in Lahore after attending a party meeting on Saturday.

PPP senator also lashes out at government’s ‘failed’ economic policies

Mr Iqbal, who had served as planning and development minister in the previous PML-N government, said it had never happened in the country’s history that changes in the economic team had been linked to the IMF bailout package.

Rana Sanaullah, another PML-N leader, said the SBP governor’s office had a constitutional cover and was a tenured post, but the government on the directives of the IMF had forced Tariq Bajwa to submit his resignation.

“How is the country being run? The servants of the IMF are being imposed on the country’s economy,” Mr Sanaullah added.

In a sudden move, the government removed SBP governor Tariq Bajwa and FBR chairman Jahanzeb Khan on Friday night at a time when the two officials were busy in talks with the IMF in Islamabad.

Both men seem to have been taken by surprise as the FBR chairman was scheduling meetings for Saturday till late Friday night when the news of his removal flashed across news TV screens.

The changes came two weeks after Prime Minister Imran Khan appointed Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh as his adviser on finance after removing finance minister Asad Umar days after his return from Washington where he had held negotiations with the IMF.

Political and journalistic circles have expressed surprise and concern over the timing of the latest development as an IMF team is already in Islamabad and holding talks with Pakistani officials on a bailout package.

PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb in a statement said the prime minister had “surrendered” the entire country to the IMF. She said first the county’s finance minister was sacked to make way for the IMF’s pick for the job and now the prime minister was about to appoint SBP governor and FBR chairman on the whims of the Fund.

“The clueless prime minister is so incompetent that he has no negotiation power anywhere which is why he had no choice but to bow down,” she said.

Ms Aurangzeb said Imran Khan, who had pledged to commit suicide before living the embarrassing day when he had to ask the IMF for a loan, owed the people an apology or should admit that he was embarrassed over what he had said earlier.

“The arrogant and incompetent prime minister has snatched the last bite of food from the impoverished people of Pakistan with petrol price hike right before start of Ramazan,” she said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar also lashed out at the “failed economic policies” of the government, saying “Imran Khan’s tsunami has flooded the country with the price hike.”

Senator Khokhar, who is also the spokesman for PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, in a statement said the people were suffering due to “inability” of the government to run the country. He said the Pakistan Stock Exchange was on the freefall and the hike in petrol prices would multiply the difficulties of the people.

Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2019