Opposition leaders said on Thursday that the ouster of Asad Umar as finance minister and other major changes in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet had exposed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government’s competence in managing the country’s economic and governance challenges.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif said that Pakistan’s economy was being held hostage by ego, arrogance and stubbornness.
“Imran Khan Niazi should set aside his ego, arrogance and stubbornness and concentrate on the economy,” Sharif said.
Shehbaz added that he had made an offer to improve the economy since day one. “If time had not been wasted we wouldn’t have been facing such economic devastation.”
The PML-N leader said that more adverse economic situation will be encountered by the nation if further time is wasted.
Congratulating the nation over Umar’s ouster, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said the first wicket had fallen.
“The government’s entire team will return to the pavilion before the end of 50 overs,” he said, adding that Prime Minister Imran is unable to handle his team and the government.
“The selected PM is neither able to run the economy nor foreign affairs. Imran has pushed the country into a severe crisis. After the financial crisis, severe governance crisis has appeared in the country,” added the PPP chairman.
Former finance minister Ishaq Dar said that Asad Umar’s stepping down as the finance minister of the country reflected “cowardice”.
In his statement, Dar accused Umar of misleading the nation since 2014, adding, “Asad Umar remained the finance minister for eight months and laid distorted facts before the nation”.
He noted that there was only one month left in presentation of budget, while the agreement with International Monetary Fund (IMF) was also in its final stages.
“It was not appropriate for Asad Umar to leave the ground this way,” the former finance minister said.
He further said his party pointed to Imran Khan’s “lies” over the past three weeks.
“We pointed to the dropping of inflation bomb on the masses. We also gave suggestions to the government as to how could the economy be fixed,” Dar recalled.
“They did not listen to anything, and today, Asad Umar is resigning, which is inappropriate.”
“With the change of ministers, Imran Khan cannot escape responsibility of this economic catastrophe,” he said.
PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb said the “real problem” lies not with the finance minister, but the prime minister.
In a tweet, Aurangzeb said Umar’s removal is an admission by the PM that “his policies have created an economic crisis.”
PML-N Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq stated a change in one of the most important cabinets is “not a good omen”.
Umar was removed as the finance minister on Thursday after facing mounting criticism in recent weeks over the state of Pakistan’s economy.
Bakhtawar Bhutto-Zardari took a jibe at the PTI government, saying the prime minister should appoint his sister “Aleema Khan as the new finance minister so she can sa-lie this whole mess together”.