ISHAQ Dar lives in a world entirely different from the real world, where he assumes the role of a self-proclaimed ‘savior.’ During a recent media discussion in London, the former finance minister once more proudly proclaimed his role in averting Pakistan’s potential default on its foreign debt obligations.
As always, ISHAQ DAR conveniently omitted the part where he mishandled the previous IMF loan program, which had been revived with significant fiscal adjustments and months of tough negotiations by his predecessor and party colleague. He also failed to acknowledge his own role in pushing the country perilously close to the brink of default, despite now claiming credit for averting it.
Indeed, when PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif abruptly removed Miftah Ismail from the Q Block and dispatched Mr. Dar to Islamabad as his replacement, Pakistan’s economy was not in great shape. However, investor confidence had begun to recover due to the revival of the IMF loan deal, and Pakistan was on track to successfully complete the next program review, which would have facilitated additional official capital inflows and improved its balance-of-payments situation.
Regrettably, Mr. Dar’s arrival disrupted this progress, undoing whatever little headway had been made since the revival of the IMF loan facility. His fixation on manipulating the exchange rate for a stronger rupee and controlling interest rates severely damaged Pakistan’s relationship with the IMF.
Regardless of his subsequent actions, such as imposing significant additional taxes on already burdened individuals through a supplementary finance bill and devaluing the currency, he failed to persuade the IMF to conclude the pending review and release the funds.
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The deepening economic crisis we face today, characterized by persistent inflation, substantial rupee depreciation, and escalating power and fuel costs, can largely be attributed to his obsession with a strong rupee and low-interest rates, as well as his inability to address the substantial fiscal deficit by imposing taxes on sectors that were undertaxed or not taxed at all.
He claims that his party paid a heavy political price to prevent a sovereign default. Yet, what about the unimaginable price that the majority of Pakistanis are forced to pay each day, a burden they will continue to bear for years due to his flawed policies and gimmicks? It’s no wonder that many do not wish for his return, at least not to the Q Block.