IMF is behind PTI’s changes on its new economic team


News Analysis |

Syed Khursheed Shah, senior leader of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and former leader of the opposition in the National Assembly (NA), alleged on Sunday that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was behind former finance minister Asad Umar’s sacking.

In a video statement issued on Sunday, the PPP leader said that the international lender had used Reza Baqir, an economist attached with IMF, to convey their reservations about Asad Umar’s performance to the government. “According to my information, Reza Baqir – since he was with the IMF in Egypt – was used in the move to sack Umar. Through him, messages were conveyed that the IMF was not happy with Umar,” Shah said.

In a sudden move, the government removed the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) governor Tariq Bajwa and FBR chairman Jahanzeb Khan on Friday night at a time when the two officials were busy in talks with the IMF in Islamabad. Mr. Baqir has been appointed as the governor of the SBP on Saturday, replacing Tariq Bajwa.

Read more: Can Mifta’s optimism avoid another IMF program?

Pakistan has become a colony of IMF

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) senior leader Ahsan Iqbal also lamented that the incumbent government has made Pakistan a colony of the IMF. “Pakistan has been made a colony of the IMF. I am forced to say that unfortunately the country’s sovereignty has been sold out and we will lodge a strong protest in the National Assembly over it,” said the PML-N’s senior leader while talking to reporters in Lahore after attending a party meeting on Saturday.

Rana Sanaullah, another PML-N leader, said the SBP governor’s office had a constitutional cover and was a tenured post, but the government on the directives of the IMF had forced Tariq Bajwa to submit his resignation. “How is the country being run? The servants of the IMF are being imposed on the country’s economy,” Mr Sanaullah added.

Read more: Will PTI be forced to embrace IMF?

Formation of JIT

PPP has also demanded the formation of JIT on the sudden removal of governor State Bank of Pakistan. While addressing a press conference PPP leader and secretary general Syed Nayyar Hussain Bukhari and Deputy Secretary Information Palwasha Khan have stated that sudden removal of governor State Bank of Pakistan was alarming and demanded the formation of JIT on this issue. Moreover, they criticized the sitting government for handing over the country economic control to IMF.

They also rejected the government move regarding the increase of oil prices and warned that the people would agitate to topple the government if the inflation rate wasn’t controlled immediately. They declared the oil price hike a petrol bomb and said it would hit the poor people really hard ahead of Ramazan.

They stated that the government’s failure to take effective steps for economic stability would lead the country to total destruction.  They viewed that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf leaders had claimed in the past that they would bring the petrol price down to Rs38 per litre but the people wondered where they had gone. They said that Prime Minister Imran Khan wanted to change his team for incapability but ironically, he didn’t admit his inability to manage the country’s affairs through a sustainable economic policy.

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Asad Umar removed because IMF wanted it

Asad Umar was entrusted to deal with Pakistan’s failing economy but after a struggle of 8 months the Prime Minister decided to replace him. Experts believe that the decision of replacement was due to pressure by the IMF. Rauf Klasra, journalist and reporter, commented as to why Asad Umar has been replaced. “This was IMF’ condition to replace Asad Umer with Hafeez Sheikh… That’s why Asad Umer removed suddenly and ” IMF MAN” Hafeez Sheikh brought,” he said.

Political observers believe that Asad Umar wanted not to work according to the conditions posed by the IMF. Therefore, he did not go the international forum after assuming his office. He tried to reform the economy at first so that he might be in a position to negotiate something considerable with the IMF. Sources report that the international bureaucracy was not happy with Asad Umar who was not willing to compromise on many points and was persistently firm on his principles.