CHINIOT: As the government’s financial team struggles to cope with the massive challenges facing the economy, a senior PML-N politician on Fri­day volunteered to replace the embattled finance minister, Ishaq Dar.

Qaisar Ahmad Sheikh, a thrice-elected MNA from Chiniot who has also served as chairman of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Finance for several years, said that it seemed financial matters had now spiralled out of Mr Dar’s control, as the country seems to be heading towards default, while the government is busy tackling the opposition and making cases against them.

Speaking to mediapersons on Friday, Mr Sheikh said the government had failed to revive the economy and control inflation and unemployment as per their promise to people.

Citing a letter written to him by Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, president of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mr Sheikh said the whole business community was looking to him to take a leadership role to revive the economy.

“Not only the common man, middle and poor class of the country, but also investors, millers, industrialists and businessmen are suffering equally from the bad economic policies adopted by the financial team of the government,” he admitted.

He blamed the economic crises on a lack of consultation, saying that the coalition partners did not take the elected parliamentary partners into confidence, and that decision making was confined to only a few “unelected persons”. Not a single meeting of the parliamentary party has been held in the past 10 months, he said, adding that it was time to give key offices and ministries to “elected representatives”, who can serve better than “selected ones”.

“I have also sent a message to the prime minster of Pakistan and apprised him of the bad condition of economy ... I have no lust for office, wealth or protocol, but only want to bring the country out of crisis, with the support of business community,” he said.

According to him, the only way to get out of the crises is a grand dialogue between political parties and all stakeholders of the country, he said.

“I have 50 years of experience as a business leader; [I have been] president of KCCI, a parliamentarian for three terms and enjoy the full support of the business community. I have aspirations to serve the country and am a fit replacement as finance minister,” Mr Sheikh told reporters.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2023

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