Pakistan's finance minister quits, tainted PML-N leader to replace him
Amid a worsening economic crisis after the deadly floods, Pakistan's Finance Minister Miftah Ismail resigned on Sunday. He is the fifth finance minister of the country to quit in four years. Reportedly, senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Ishaq Dar is set to become the next finance minister. Notably, Dar has been living in self-exile in London since 2017 after being accused of corruption.
- Pakistan is currently experiencing a severe economic crisis after seeing a huge increase in its current account deficit as a result of both the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
- The growth in inflation has also put pressure on both individuals and businesses.
- The devastating floods last month, which killed over 1,500 people and destroyed $30B worth of properties, only added to the crisis.
According to local media, Ismail resigned amid speculations that PML-N chief and former PM Nawaz Sharif was unhappy with several of his decisions. The Express Tribune reported his ouster was also aimed at bolstering the PML-N's political clout ahead of the next general election. Meanwhile, Dar—who's been in London for five years—is expected to reach Pakistan soon to take over as the finance minister.
Ismail reportedly announced his resignation during a key PML-N party meeting in London that was chaired by Nawaz on Sunday. It was attended by PM Shehbaz, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, and Dar, among others.
Meanwhile, the World Bank has promised Pakistan $2 billion in financial aid to recover from the damage caused by the floods. Martin Raiser, the World Bank's vice-president for South Asia, made the announcement on Saturday during his first official visit to Pakistan. He also expressed great sorrow over the loss of lives in the floods and promised immediate help to those most impacted.
In a meeting with Mian Nawaz Sharif and PM Shehbaz Sharif today, I have verbally resigned as Finance Minister. I will tender a formal resignation upon reaching Pakistan. It’s been an honour to serve twice as Finance Minister. Pakistan Paindabad— Miftah Ismail (@MiftahIsmail) September 25, 2022
A deal for $850 million in flood aid for Pakistan was also reached last week during a meeting between Pakistani PM Shehbaz Sharif and the World Bank on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York. This amount would be part of the $2 billion aid that Raiser recently promised to the country.
Dar, who previously served as Pakistan's finance minister, is reportedly wanted in several corruption cases in the country. An accountability court, however, overturned an outstanding arrest order against him earlier this week, paving the way for his return from London. Once sworn in as the finance minister, he will have two major challenges to tackle: reducing inflation and addressing the US dollar-Pakistani rupee parity.