Saturday, January 28, 2023

Ishaq Dar challenges Imran Khan for ‘live debate’ on economic mess

Dar lambasts Imran Khan for signing a deal with IMF as the latter is now dictating economic policies to Pakistan

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar addressing the people via a televised address on December 31, 2023. — PID/File
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar addressing the people via a televised address on December 31, 2023. — PID/File

  • Dar challenges Khan to hold “live debate” to ascertain who destroyed economy.
  • "IMF is dictating economic policies now and Khan is responsible for it," he says.
  • He adds PTI chief presented “concocted false economic figures” in his press conference.

ISLAMABAD: Accusing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan of derailing the country’s economy, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar challenged the former prime minister to hold a “live debate” to ascertain who pushed the South Asian nation into the current economic mess.

Dar, in a televised address aired following the PTI chief’s presser, severely criticised the policies of the Khan-led government and accused him of signing a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to provide it with a chance to dictate Pakistan on economic matters.

“The IMF has been dictating economic policies now and Khan was responsible for it because he made mistakes in running the economy,” the finance czar said after he faced criticism over massive rupee devaluation against the US dollar, delay in the ninth review of the IMF programme, and closure of several industries.

Dar, who replaced Miftah Ismail as the finance minister in September last year, recalled that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government left the gross domestic product (GDP) growth at 6.1% in 2018.

He said that the net GDP size went up by $26 billion during the tenure of the PTI-led government, while it had increased by $112 billion during the last tenure of PML-N from 2013 to 2018.

“During our [PML-N's] previous tenure, international rating agencies predicted Pakistan would join G20 by 2030,” he said, reacting to Pakistan PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s statement on the country’s economy.

'Concocted false economic figures'

Terming Khan's speech "full of lies", Dar said the PTI chief presented “concocted false economic figures”, which were not based on reality.

He claimed that today’s economic crisis and inflation were due to the wrong economic policies formed during Khan’s government.

The finance minister said: “We had a choice to save the country or our politics, but we sacrificed politics for the sake of the country."

Dar further added that the per capita income was $1,798 during PML-N's last tenure, which dropped to $1,768 during the PTI's government.

He said that the inflation rate was 8.6% under the former PML-N government, which spiked to double digits during the PTI era.

“Along with this, food inflation was 2% during the last PML-N regime, which reached 12% during PTI’s tenure,” he added.

The finance czar further added that during Khan’s regime, foreign direct investment was non-existent, which had reached $2,000 million during the PML-N government.

The minister maintained that Khan continued to “tarnish the image of the country in his speeches during foreign visits," He questioned that “how can investment come in the country” [with such an approach]?"

He pointed out that the current account deficit in the PML-N's previous government was $19.2 billion, which was due to the efforts "to end the menace of terrorism and load shedding".

“Remember there was a time when Pakistanis were facing 18 hours of load shedding in the country which was abolished by the PML-N government,” he recalled.

He claimed the country’s export and current account deficit improved during the PML-N's former government.

The minister said: “Khan’s former government destroyed the country’s economy and damaged the country’s image and economic credibility."