Imran Khan neither democrat, nor anti-establishment, says Miftah

KARACHI: Former finance minister Miftah Ismail has criticised the country’s political and economic policies, particularly targeting former prime minister Imran Khan, accusing him of lacking democratic spirit and merely seeking to regain power.

Speaking at a dialogue hosted by the Habib Public Alumni Association in Karachi on Saturday, Ismail discussed the nation’s economic challenges, stating, “No country will invest in Pakistan unless monetary and fiscal conditions improve.”

He highlighted the nature of foreign investments over the past two decades, noting, “Pakistan has only attracted investments that cater to local sales. No country has made investments aimed at manufacturing products for export.”

Ismail expressed concerns over the absence of effective economic policies capable of driving national development. “Even if corruption is eliminated, Pakistan will not become wealthy. Businesses cannot thrive on loans from friends; they need bank financing,” he asserted.

He emphasised the need to simplify investment processes to attract investors and pointed out alarming literacy statistics: “In Pakistan, 78% of ten-year-olds cannot read two sentences.”

Commenting on Imran Khan’s political approach, Ismail remarked, “Imran Khan lacks democratic spirit. He is not anti-establishment but anti-current establishment. His 2011 rally was backed by the establishment. Politics today is divided into pro and anti-establishment factions. Given the signal, Khan would align with the establishment again.”

Ismail further criticised Khan’s reliance on establishment support, saying, “Those who bring you to power can also remove you. Khan’s issues with the current establishment arise because it doesn’t support him.”

Reflecting on past governance, Ismail mentioned, “During Khan’s tenure, we witnessed incidents like the ring incident. Nawaz Sharif declared that fuel prices wouldn’t rise, while Ishaq Dar aspired to become a minister. Shehbaz Sharif remained silent.”

Ismail also criticised former finance minister Asad Umar’s decision to avoid the International Monetary Fund (IMF), calling it a mistake. “Not increasing prices cost us Rs110 billion. The entire civil government runs on Rs40 billion,” he explained.

Ismail, who is preparing to launch a new political party, remarked, “We could have had ministries, but we will come through votes, God willing. If we don’t join the government, so be it, but we are grateful to the army for preventing us from becoming like Syria.”

He urged for straightforwardness in politics, stating, “Someone has to say no. Nawaz Sharif should have said no. If he had admitted defeat on February 9, it would have been his victory.”

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