ISLAMABAD: Continuing its criticism over the appointments of Dr Reza Baqir of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as new governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh as adviser to the prime minister on finance, the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has feared that the country’s nuclear programme may come under threat after appointment in key positions of “IMF representatives”.
“Seeing the intentions of [Prime Minister] Imran Khan, the nation should be worried about Pakistan’s nuclear capability,” said PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb in a statement on Sunday.
Ms Aurangzeb, who served as information minister in the previous government of the PML-N, alleged the premier had handed over the country to “the East India Company”, a reference to the British trade company through which Britain established its rule in the Indian sub-continent in the 18th century.
PML-N claims Pakistan’s nuclear programme is under threat
However, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan defended the government’s decision and termed Dr Baqir a “pride of Pakistan”.
Late on Saturday night, the government had announced that Dr Baqir had been appointed as the SBP governor to serve for a three-year term.
An Aitchison alumnus, Dr Baqir earned his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, in Economics and had been serving the IMF for the past 16 years. He was heading the IMF’s debt policy division and worked on IMF policies on external debt sustainability and restructuring of member countries.
He will be the second IMF official to head the State Bank as before him Dr Mohammad Yaqub had been brought from the IMF to head the SBP between 1993 and 1999.
Ms Aurangzeb said Pakistan’s sovereignty had been “compromised and this time the East India Company did not even need to fight because the incompetent prime minister dished it out to the IMF on a platter”.
Instead of negotiating a favourable and sustainable economic plan, she said the PM knew nothing better than to pass the entire country’s fiscal and monetary control to the IMF representatives by appointing their employees as heads of Pakistan’s State Bank and the finance ministry. “The insecure and complexed prime minister fired his best bet at negotiating a near favourable package and handed over the lock and key of the country’s treasury to the IMF,” she said.
The PML-N’s spokesperson said it was no secret that Dr Baqir excelled in the art of keeping countries buried under debt to pile up insane levels of interests for his original employer, the IMF. She said the PM had embarrassed the nation by not just bowing down to the IMF but kneeling to every single one of their orders no matter how unreasonable.
“(Imran) Khan doesn’t need to go to the IMF anymore because he has formally made the country’s top financial institution their office,” she added.
The former information minister said it was all making sense as why ex-premier Nawaz Sharif was being pushed out of the way by hook or by crook. “It is because he would have stood against such a shameful surrender of the entire country to a third party financial institution,” she stressed.
She claimed that the PML-N supremo gave Pakistan the multibillion dollar ‘gift’ of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) while “the inept, incompetent and egocentric Imran Khan has yielded the country to its last penny to the IMF”.
“The country had not seen a day without a new disaster ever since Imran Khan and his regime have taken control,” she said, alleging that the Rs9 petrol bomb on the already crushed people before Ramazan had been bombarded at the behest of the IMF.
Defending the appointment, the information adviser said the SBP governor, who studied in prestigious international institutions, had joined PM Khan’s finance team to steer Pakistan out of the economic crisis.
She claimed that Dr Baqir had tendered his resignation from the IMF to serve Pakistan.
Responding to the opposition’s criticism, she said the opposition wanted to close the doors on the intelligent Pakistanis working at prestigious international institutions who wanted to serve their motherland.
It was Mr Khan’s Naya Pakistan, which acknowledged the capabilities of these intelligent Pakistanis, she added. “Those who had sunk the country in a deep quagmire of problems for over three decades are perturbed over the resignation of the former SBP governor,” Dr Awan said.
Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2019