‘Where did default story come from?’ PTI’s Asad Umar rejects ex-FBR chief’s claims

Former financial czar says the country did not even default when reserves plunged to less than $3 billion

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PTI leader Asad Umar (left) and former FBR chairman Shabbar Zaidi. — Reuters/File
PTI leader Asad Umar (left) and former FBR chairman Shabbar Zaidi. — Reuters/File  

  • Asad Umar says country's reserves stood at $9.8bn in April 2020.
  • "How could [the country] default with 8.7 billion dollars?"
  • Shabbar Zaidi served as FBR chief during the PTI-led government.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senior leader Asad Umar has expressed surprise over former Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chief Shabbar Zaidi claims that the country’s economy would have collapsed, had the Imran Khan-led government completed its tenure.

Zaidi was appointed by the then-PTI-led regime to lead the top tax collection body in 2019. In April 2020, Zaidi was removed from the post after he went on indefinite leave citing health reasons.

"Had this [PTI] government continued, the party would not have even secured 5% votes as the country would have economically collapsed," the former FBR chief told Geo News' Shahzeb Khanzada.

He was referring to the ouster of the PTI-led government in April 2022 through a vote of no-confidence.

The tax collection authority's ex-chief said he had advised Khan to rectify his government's shortcomings and "settle things, but he was not in the mood of listening [to anyone]".

Zaidi further claimed that when he pointed out the economic crises Pakistan was facing during PTI's tenure, Khan removed Asad Umar as the finance minister.

Responding to his claims, Umar rhetorically said: “Hello Shabbar bhai, where did this story come from?”

He went on to say that the PTI government was formed in August 2018 and added that the foreign exchange reserves held by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) stood at $9.8 billion at the end of the PTI government’s rule.

Umar further said the SBP’s reserves were $8.7 billion when he left the finance ministry in April 2019. “From where did the default story come?”

The former financial czar said under the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led government central bank forex reserves plunged to less than $3 billion and the country did not default on debt repayments. “[...] how could [the country] default with $8.7 billion?” he asked.