ISLAMABAD: As the Pakistani rupee took a steep fall on Thursday and interest rate witnessed an increase of 300 basis points, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) demanded the resignation of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar as it grilled the federal government for “bringing once fast-thriving economy to its knees” through mismanagement.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad, PTI leader Hammad Azhar said Pakistan was passing through the worst economic catastrophe, but the prime minister and the cabinet were still not ready to talk about the deteriorating economic situation.
Mr Azhar said it was inevitable to get rid of Ishaq Dar, as either he should tender his resignation or should be immediately sacked for the sake of economic security. Due to the poor economic management of the ruling coalition, global financial institutions and friendly countries were not ready to trust the government anymore.
The former minister said that the “non-serious” attitude of the government was evident from the fact that Minister of State for Finance Ayesha Ghaus Pasha was on a three-week leave while Finance Minister Dar could not face the nation to apprise the masses of the economic catastrophe these “thieves” have inflicted on the country.
He made it clear that the country was in a dire need of a fresh public mandate to surmount these challenges. According to the PTI leader, the rupee lost its value by 62 per cent during the last 11 months and “plunged to a new all-time low of Rs310 against the dollar in the open market”.
The PTI leader said that fluctuations in the exchange rate alone increased the public debt by Rs14.3 trillion. The difference in exchange rates in the interbank and open market is causing a loss of $800m per month due to a decline in foreign remittances, he added.
The PTI leader went on to say that the gravity of the situation could be judged from the fact that global rating agency Moody’s changed Pakistan’s status from stable to negative, which was the lowest rating given to the countries nearing to be defaulted, as Sri Lanka was given the same rating before default.
He said that Pakistan was paying Rs5,500 billion only in interest for the debts it has accumulated and added that it was heartbreaking to see what this government has done to the country in mere 11 months.
“If Shaukat Tarin was declared a traitor for [trying to sabotage the deal with] IMF, then what about Dar and Shehbaz now?” he asked while alluding to the economic meltdown. He said that no one knew about the exact status of the IMF programme, as the government was too focused on “politics of revenge and ending corruption cases” against its members.
According to the PTI leader, PTI Chairman Imran Khan has formed a legal team for the release of the detained PTI leaders. He stated that the PTI’s first objective was to get a date for the elections because political and economic stability could only be achieved through a change in government.
In a response to a statement made by PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz, the PTI leader said, “Did Miftah not tell you that he negotiated this extension of IMF program in September 2022 just before you fired him?” “Your relative Dar has been postponing the IMF review since October,” he added.
Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2023