Pakistan just weeks away from Sri Lanka-like situation, claims Asad Umar

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader and former minister for planning Asad Umar has claimed that no foreign country is willing to offer support to the incumbent government, saying Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif returned “empty-handed” from the trips seeking to secure financial support to prop up Pakistan’s ailing economy.

Addressing a press conference here on Sunday, Asad Umar said, “No countries including China, Saudi Arabia, UAE — even the International Monetary Fund — are giving money to Pakistan.” He quoted experts as saying that the situation in Pakistan was bleak and it was just weeks away from a Sri Lanka-like situation.

PM Shehbaz and members of his cabinet had embarked on their first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia since coming to power. During his three-day visit, he met Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other officials. A joint statement at the conclusion of the trip had said the two countries agreed to discuss extending the term of a 3 billion dollar loan to help Pakistan’s new government tide over the prevailing economic crisis. PM Shehbaz later went to the UAE, following which a joint statement said the two countries expressed their desire to strengthen “bilateral economic cooperation”. As far as talks with the IMF is concerned, late last month, the government resumed talks with the IMF to revive its stalled programme. In a talk at the Atlantic Council, Miftah Ismail said he agreed with a key demand of the IMF to remove fuel subsidies instituted by the PTI. Asad Umar claimed that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was “clueless” and did not have the courage to take decisions. “Finance Minister Miftah Ismail is looking at Shehbaz, who is looking at Ishaq Dar, who is reliant on Nawaz Sharif, while the convicted former PM, in turn, is looking at Zardari and the cycle goes on,” he said. He claimed Zardari was “enjoying” the current situation the most in which Shehbaz is completely “helpless”.

Says Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif returned ‘empty-handed’ from foreign trips

The PTI leader said that snap polls were the only solution to fix the crumbling economy. He said the opposition parties brought no-confidence motion against Imran Khan to dent ‘strong economy’. He claimed that ex-prime minister Imran Khan tried his best to save the masses from inflation as he called for early elections to save the economy from further deterioration. The PTI leader demanded early elections, saying the new government could not decide on how to manage the economy. Umar listed his government’s economic achievements during its four-year tenure and claimed the economy was functioning smoothly until the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan. He said the motion with the alleged help of foreign powers was brought against the PTI chief because the “economy was doing great”. Umar claimed that the industrial sector, trade and power generation witnessed growth and added that economic growth this year would hit 6 percent. He said that the PTI government had introduced farmer-friendly policies that resulted in record growth. The sugarcane crop recorded 9.6 percent higher growth compared to the last year. The corn crop also saw a record increase, he added. According to Umar, foreign exchange reserves were reduced by 6 billion dollars since the no-confidence motion against Imran. “On the one hand, the government is facing difficulty in borrowing money from outside Pakistan,” he said. Umar said the government was indecisive about the economic decisions as the government and its allies were looking toward each other for decision-making. The former minister said that the patience of the masses was running thin and the best solution to avoid any untoward situation is to call snap polls.

 

He said the interest rate was highest at 15 percent since 1998 while the stock market lost 3,000 points and inflation rose to 13.4 percent due to the lowest ever confidence in the govt.

 

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