News Analysis |
Asad Umar, a prominent leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and close aide of Prime Minister Imran Khan, has decided to step aside after being asked to assume the Energy Minister portfolio. “As part of a cabinet reshuffle, [the] prime minister desired that I take the energy minister portfolio instead of finance,” he said. “However, I have obtained his consent to not take any cabinet position.”
As part of a cabinet reshuffle PM desired that I take the energy minister portfolio instead of finance. However, I have obtained his consent to not take any cabinet position. I strongly believe @ImranKhanPTI is the best hope for Pakistan and inshallah will make a naya pakistan
— Asad Umar (@Asad_Umar) April 18, 2019
Asad Umar also held a press conference and explained his position. He repeatedly stated that he was willing to work for the betterment of Pakistan and will remain a part of the PTI. “I came into politics so that I could do something for the betterment of the country. I don’t know if there has been a conspiracy or not [to remove me] but all I know is that my ‘captain’ wanted to see me in the role of the energy minister. I did not think that would be a great idea so I refused”.
Political Pundits Comment
Analysts believe that the decision to replace Asad Umar is official admission of incompetence at the part of PTI. Fahd Hussain, analyst, and senior journalist said “it is the first official and formal acknowledgement of ‘incompetence’ by the PTI government. For months now the government has been hiding behind a wall of denial about the fact that it is not being able to deliver on all key fronts and especially the economy. The clichéd defence was: “give us more time” and “it is the last government’s mess. Asad Umar’s axing is an admission that it is now PTI’s mess”.
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.
Fahd also believes that the decision has considerably weakened the confidence of the PTI and its supporters. “Asad Umar’s sacking is also an acceptance that the entire logic on which PTI had been building its narrative the last eight months was flawed. This is a massive blow to PTI’s confidence and an even greater blow to the PTI mantra that it can do no wrong. The sacking of Asad Umar brings down PTI from its high horse. It also punctures its self-proclaimed savior image and that it had everything worked out before it came to power,” he wrote.
Dr. Moeed Pirzada, a prominent anchorperson, also said that “PTI – especially its young cadres – are totally demoralized after this “Bloody Thursday “; Imran Khan needs to find the right explanation & language to restore trust of a battered nation; otherwise the road ahead will be very slippery @ImranKhanPTI”
PTI – especially its young cadres – are totally demoralised after this "Bloody Thursday "; Imran Khan needs to find the right explanation & language to restore trust of a battered nation; otherwise the road ahead will be very slippery @ImranKhanPTI
— Moeed Pirzada (@MoeedNj) April 18, 2019
It is believed that Prime Minister succumbed to pressure and propaganda initiated by the PPP, PML-N and corporate sector in Pakistan. Sources claim that many pro-IMF people have conveyed PM Khan to replace Mr. Umar. Mosharraf Zaidi, columnist, tweeted “Austerity hawks, anti reform seths, and retired grandpas have won, and Asad Umar has lost. The young core of the PTI has been cheated and lied to. Terrible day for well wishers of Tabdeeli”.
Austerity hawks, anti reform seths, and retired grandpas have won, and Asad Umar has lost.
The young core of the PTI has been cheated and lied to.
Terrible day for well wishers of Tabdeeli.
— Mosharraf Zaidi (@mosharrafzaidi) April 18, 2019
Rauf Klasra, journalist and reporter, also 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.
My Assessment: This was IMF' condition to replace Asad Umer with Hafeez Sheikh… That's why Asad Umer removed suddenly and " IMF MAN" Hafeez Sheikh brought: @KlasraRauf @AmirMateen2 @sarwatvalim @92newschannel pic.twitter.com/I3rDLh4eJE
— Kismat Khan (@KismatZimri) April 18, 2019
Asad Umar Believes in “Captain”
Asad Umar wanted not to work according to the conditions posed by the IMF. Therefore, he did not go to 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 reasonable 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.
After his resignation, in a talk-show with Kashif Abbasi, Umar told the nation that he was neither angry nor disappointed. “I am relaxed. I think PM has done it to do something better for Pakistan. To do something for my country has always been my ardent wish. I am with my Captain,” he said.
It is yet to be seen how will PM Khan lead his team after Asad Umar. A serious legitimacy crisis has been created after Asad Umar’s resignation who has been the face of PTI’s Tabdeeli.