Unjustified Pressure

Finance Minister Miftah Ismail continues to face pressure from all directions as he attempts to enforce tough stabilisation measures to address the economic crisis. Reports reveal that he has been facing criticism from within the ruling PML-N amid speculations of ex-financial czar Ishaq Dar’s return to Pakistan to replace him. Speculation regarding the Finance Minister’s replacement began after there were reports about Ishaq Dar returning from London.
It is important to point out that the development comes amid rumours that since Mr. Ismail was appointed under Section 9 of Article 91 of the Constitution—induction of non-elected to the cabinet—Mr. Dar is eligible to assume responsibilities as finance minister as he is elected parliamentarian. According to the law, if a person is not a member of any of the two houses of the parliament and he is appointed a minister, he would have to be elected to the National Assembly within six months. However, it must also be mentioned that Mr. Dar will have to settle cases against him before assuming responsibilities as a senator.
It is unfortunate that this is even being discussed and that such undue pressure is being exerted upon someone who is undoubtedly the most qualified person for the job within the ruling party. The finance minister has had to take incredibly difficult economic decisions while risking his political reputation; at the very least, he should have his party’s backing.
Nevertheless, it is encouraging to see some senior party members publicly express their support for Miftah Ismail. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi have stated that his understanding of economic issues is unmatched, and it is time to stand with him, especially, when he is feeling the heat from within. There is no denying that the finance minister has been performing under extremely difficult circumstances, and he has played a crucial role in saving the country from default and in reviving the IMF deal. In order to stabilise the economy, we need serious restructuring and tough decisions, not political gimmicks from the past that continue to hurt us today.

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