Home Latest News PMLN Paid Heavy Political Cost to Avert Default, Reiterates Dar

PMLN Paid Heavy Political Cost to Avert Default, Reiterates Dar

Former finance minister calls on government to act against speculators and maintains hefty electricity bills are a ‘complex’ issue

by Staff Report

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Former finance minister Ishaq Dar on Friday maintained that the high “political cost” paid by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) was “worth it” to prevent the country from defaulting on its international debt obligations.

Addressing media in London after a meeting with party leaders Nawaz and Shehbaz Sharif, he reiterated his criticism of the government of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan, maintaining it had left the country on the brink of default. “These 14 or 15 months were a battle to prevent default,” he said, referring to the tenure of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led government. “The PMLN paid a high political cost but it was worth it. We sacrificed politics to save the state,” he added.

“Some quarters locally and internationally wished for Pakistan to default first and then negotiate with Pakistan,” he claimed, stressing the country had managed to surpass all expectations. “We took [foreign exchange] reserves to $13 billion. Fitch [ratings agency] at the end of April forecast that Pakistan cannot pay its loan obligations, but we made all our arrangements,” he said.

On the recent surge in electricity bills, which have triggered protests across Pakistan, Dar said it was a “complex” issue. “Electricity is stolen, there are line losses, people don’t pay bills, so there is an issue of expenditure and revenue. Capacity payments have to be made—rupee devaluation is the mother of all economic evil. It’s a major cause of our problems and has an impact on electricity bills,” he admitted.

Maintaining there was no “quick fix” to the country’s economic turmoil, he maintained that the PMLN—if given another mandate by the public after the next general elections—could “reset” the situation. “In our last term from 2013-2018 we fixed the economy, ended blackouts and ended terrorism. There was lowest inflation, highest forex reserves, best stock market of South Asia and promising GDP growth … fast-forward five years and there was destruction. That cannot be fixed in one year,” he said, adding that a government of three or four years could affect positive change.

“We delivered in Nawaz Sharif’s government and will do so again,” he said, adding the incumbent caretaker government should continue the policies set by the former government and conditions would start to improve.

During his media interaction, the PMLN leader also hit out at the ongoing devaluation of the rupee against the U.S. dollar, blaming “speculators” for the situation. “The state has to deal with the speculators, they cannot hold Pakistan’s economy hostage,” he said, calling on the government to take action against this “handful of people.” Maintaining the rupee was being undervalued, he said the real effective exchange rate is what trade should rely on. “We are asset solvent, but we have a liquidity crisis,” he said.

Vowing that the PMLN would fight the election with full force, he claimed there was no future of the PTI chairman and his politics of hate and anarchy. “A cult cannot be allowed in the name of politics. Pakistan comes first and no compromise on that,” he added.

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