ISLAMABAD: Asad Umar, secretary general of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), on Saturday defended Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister for Finance Taimur Jhagra — who landed in hot waters for purportedly backing out of a key International Monetary Fund (IMF) requirement — saying the minister “asked for province’s right” and no one should “suppress his voice”.
Umar’s remarks come a day after Jhagra wrote to his central counterpart, Minister for Finance Miftah Ismail, saying it will be “next to impossible” for his province to run a surplus this fiscal year — a key Fund requirement to release a $1 billion tranche.
He asked for the government to resolve outstanding issues such as budget allocations for the former federally administered tribal area (FATA), monthly transfers of net hydel profits in accordance with agreed terms, and revival of the National Finance Commission (NFC) award, among others.
Jhagra said KP expressed its support within 24 hours, and that the provincial government is ready to assist the federal government, but the Centre has not met with the provincial government in two months.
“Taimur Jhagra is demanding the right of the province, don’t you dare try to suppress his voice,” Umar said.
He claimed the government is “attempting to pin the blame for its own failures” on Jhagra.
The PTI leader said the federal government is “incompetent” because “no agreement with the IMF has been reached in four and a half months”.
Umar said that Ismail blames PTI for being unable to reach an IMF deal, while Nawaz Sharif has “testified to his incompetence”.
“We were in a much stronger position to negotiate with the IMF,” Umar claimed, adding that the PTI’s efforts were aimed at having Pakistan stand on its own two feet.
In response to the unprecedented situation caused by rains and floods, Umar stated that when times are tough, the nation unites.
He said that Imran Khan has directed the party to assist flood-affected areas and that “messages are coming in from all over the world urging Imran Khan to help flood victims”.
Umar said that discussions with the provincial governments are ongoing and that a decision on flood relief aid will be made soon.
He went on to say that if the coalition government believes the country should be ruled with an iron fist, they are “living in a fantasy”.
Umar said that “whatever is happening in the country is the result of the ruling government’s failure”.
In response to notices of contempt issued by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to Fawad Chaudhry and himself, Umar stated that under the Constitution, the commission cannot issue the notice, as “it is not a court”.