DesPardes + PKonweb

Dar Throws the Gauntlet at PTI, Blames It For Financial, Economic Woes

Sans the ongoing debates on many forums, many experts say one thing is certain, and that is putting the financial and economic system in order without wait, and be willing to bear the growing pains. Strategy, tactics, timing and delivery period is another. For that, bipartisan and lots of political capital is needed, they say.

PKONWEB Report — Former finance minister during Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) government, Mr. Ishaq Dar, claims the PTI-led government is responsible for the country’s economic woes, which he predicts would worsen under PM Khan’s watch.

And many don’t agree.

“Rupee crashing. Stock market crashing. Why? 1.Yes, we have a trade deficit but we have had one for a long time. 2. Yes, we have a budget deficit but we have had one for a long time,” tweeted Dr. Farrukh Saleem who closely monitors the country’s financial and economic fundamentals.

Mr. Saleem’s take is based on extrapolating attributes of an economic cul-de-sac several independent experts have been loudly saying over the years that it would happen.

Two successive civilian governments over a decade were unable to undertake structural reforms- conditions precedent on previous IMF bailout programs. Critical among the list were: broadening tax base, privatizing sick state enterprises and lastly (not related to IMF) was the “to do list” handed out to them by Financial anti-terror and anti-money laundering task force called FATF.

“They had no will nor competence to do so. The new government I believe has the will, but lacks competent people, I think,” said Mr. Habib who resides in Lahore.

The renowned analyst says, 1. “Market determined” – Rs to go down (my guess: 10%-15% by year-end) 2. “cost recovery” – electricity tariff to go up (my guess: Rs2/unit) 3. “prior action” – announce Rs700B taxation in the budget before you get any $ 4. New injection=Rs1,000B; ~Rs35,000 per Pakistani family.”

The jury is however still out there on real causes but the bottom line is things are not rosy. Many blame Dar, some even dubbing him as an ‘economic hit man‘, while others say he’s being made a “fall guy”.

Many are also blaming on PM Khan’s incompetence to turn the tsunami around, and as fast as possible, even if it means the status quo. They say Mr. Khan had promised he would deliver. “Where’s the beef?”, says a Telecom trader and real estate entrepreneur.

It’s been nine months since PTI, in a first, came to power, but “the nation is nervous”, say some observers.

The former minister has not appeared before the National Accountability court since 2017 despite repeated notices. Subsequently, the accountability court declared him a proclaimed offender and attached his bank accounts and other properties- much to the chagrin of his party supporters who say PML-N and its leaders are being victimized.

Dar is presently residing in London, and may not come back for his day in court.

Charges of white collar crime, money-laundering, and having assets beyond known means of income have been slapped on him by the anti-graft watchdog.

In an interview with a private TV channel, the former PML(N)-led government’s Financial Minister said the laws country’s anti-graft watchdog (NAB)
uses need change.

He said cases of ‘assets beyond resources’ are like buffalo-stealing case and the objective of registering such cases is to suppress the opposition members.

He said before the NAB law, buffalo stealing-like cases were registered on politicians like Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi, which was aimed at harassing and victimizing the opponents.

A Pakistani professional (Mr. Shahzad)- running a successful firm in Saudi Arabia and asked to comment on the economic situation, said he believes Pakistan needs a loyal team of economic experts who understand rules of game of the current global monetary system, “and then follow it in a way to benefit Pakistan while avoiding army of economic hit men.”

Power professional and entrepreneur Malik Shahid had a no holds barred comment. “Classic case of how not to run an economy and why lie detector tests are necessary for all such appointments. Is and was the worse economic hit man who started as a clerk with elder Sharif and rose to dizzying heights.”

“I was expecting a meltdown of the economy several years back,” said Mr. Munawwar, another professional in Karachi.

Last month, the prosecution’s star witness and former head of the Panamagate joint investigation team, Wajid Zia, testified against Dar in the accountability court.

Zia told the court that Dar’s assets had grown manifold from 1982-83 till 2008. He said in 1982-83, Dar owned assets worth Rs9.1 million. These assets increased exponentially within a few years (increased by 91 times from 1991 to 2008), with Dar declaring Rs831.6 million assets in 2008.

Zia in his testimony to the court said he former finance minister possessed assets which were disproportionate to and beyond his known sources of income.

NAB has seized all of his movable and immovable assets on grounds of no show.

A reference was filed by NAB against Ishaq Dar following the Supreme Court’s July 28 verdict in the Panama Papers case.

PML-N party sympathizers say convictions being handed to some of their leaders are orchestrated witch-hunt despite lapses, challengeable circumstantial evidences, etc., they allege.

Sans the ongoing debates on many forums, experts say one thing is certain, and that is putting the financial and economic system in order without wait, and be willing to bear the growing pains. Strategy, tactics, timing and delivery period is another. For that, bipartisan and lots of political capital is needed, they say.

Meanwhile, as PM Khan said last week, “tough times are ahead due to past loans.”