PML-N leader Miftah Ismail said on Thursday that Pakistan suffered “a big loss” due to Finance Minister Ishaq Dar’s approach of “giving a cold shoulder” to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
“All of our experts knew this approach was bound to fail and we have seen its result,” the former finance czar said on Geo News programme ‘Geo Pakistan’.
This is not the first time that Ismail, who says he was removed at Dar’s behest, went public with his displeasure at the sitting finance minister’s ascension to the position and his criticism of the policies of his successor.
Earlier this month, the ex-minister had blamed Dar for orchestrating a campaign to undermine him. “Dar used to appear on TV and say he will bring the dollar down,” Ismail had said, adding, “he used to make anchors do programmes against me”.
During the interview today, Ismail said he had the right to defend himself. “I felt it was necessary to respond to comments made against my competence and my policies. And my party has not taken any action against me.”
Commenting on the prevailing economic crisis, Ismail said Dar underestimated the IMF’s role which hurt Pakistan’s cause.
“Dar sahib, after taking the reins, thought he would fix the economy without the IMF or by scaring the lender to accept Pakistan’s demands, as he had been openly opposing the IMF conditions. He made an attempt and as a result, Pakistan suffered a big loss.”
Ismail said it was, however, encouraging to note that the government had consented to IMF’s terms, which, according to him, could pave the way for the betterment of the economy.
In response to a question, the PML-N leader said he was unaware of the circumstances that led Dar to replace him as the finance minister. “But, I knew for a long time that Dar wanted to return as he had been appearing in TV shows and targeting me in internal party groups.”
At the same time, he also stated that the prime minister who had appointed him had the prerogative to remove him as well. “Hence I do not see anything unusual in it.”
Ismail recalled that Pakistan’s default risk rose “unacceptably high” when former premier Imran Khan allegedly violated the IMF agreement, adding that the PML-N government — during his tenure as the finance minister — took measures that minimised the risk of bankruptcy.
‘I will not take part in electoral politics’
The former minister said he had decided against taking part in electoral politics. “I will not contest in elections as Pakistan’s interest is more important than my personal political career.”
To a question about a “forum” he and other political leaders were forming ahead of the elections, Ismail said that he had been discussing the idea behind the forum — ‘Emerging Pakistan’ — with his political fellows, including Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
“We want to leave a legacy that helps our country in the future,” the ex-minister said while explaining the rationale behind the grouping of different political leaders.
Responding to a question about being approached by some people in the PTI, the PML-N leader said he had spoken to “friends in the PTI” and they would be brought to the forum.
Ismail further underlined that Pakistan was facing a torrent of issues ranging from health to education and such problems needed measures on an urgent basis.
“If all countries like Bangladesh and India are leaving us behind, then it indicates that Pakistan has a flawed governance model.”
He called for introspection and examination of the country’s own failures.
“We will bring people from across all political parties, seek opinions from people and we will reimagine what we think Pakistan should actually be like,” he said.
The former minister said Pakistan had tried democracy, parliamentary democracy, presidential system, and dictatorship (both Islamic and secular), and “we realised that decisions in the country are taken by a small group of elites — the approach that we must review.”
“We want a consensus among all political parties. We believe there should be a pressure group that helps the government improve its performance.”